SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -- Kelsie Sampson scored a career-high 33 points on Monday night in Murchison Gymnasium to lead No. 8 Westmont women's basketball (5-3) to an 85-71 win over the visiting Argos (8-4) of Great Falls (Mont.). Sampson made 14 of 27 attempts from the field and drilled five of six shots from the charity stripe. She also pulled down eight rebounds and notched three blocks.
"Kelsie was a beast inside for us tonight," said Westmont head coach Kirsten Moore. "For a while, she was the only thing we had going on offense. We had to establish the inside game to open up our outside game. We were able to do that with Kelsie's play in the first half, which opened up our perimeter in the second half."
After making just two of nine from beyond the arc in the first half, Westmont converted five of eight long-range bombs in the second half. Celina Gougis went three-for-five from downtown on her way to 13 points, six rebounds and three assists.
"Celina hit some big shots and Erin Beadle's defense was great," noted Moore. "Karlie Storkson hit some big shots for us but it all started with Kelsie's play inside - both offensively and defensively."
Storkson added eight points to the Warriors' cause while Beadle produced six rebounds, three assists, two steals and a block. Esther Lee added 10 points and Aysia Shellmire tallied six points, six rebounds, two blocks and two steals.
The game opened with a layup by Great Falls' Erin Legel (25 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists) and a three-pointer by Taylor Statton (8 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists), which put the Warriors in a 5-0 hole.
Two free throws from Sampson and a three-pointer by Storkson tied the game at five before Mary Wilmore (24 points, 11 rebounds) drained a shot from three-point territory and then scored on a layup to make it 10-5 in favor of the Argos.
However, eight unanswered points by Sampson would turn the tide in favor of the Warriors, giving them a 13-10 lead. Two free throws by Legel and a bucket by Wilmore gave Great Falls their last lead of the night at 14-13. A three by Lee, two more jumpers by Sampson and a jumper by Shellmire put the Warriors up 22-14 with 9:21 remaining in the opening frame.
After leading 38-27 at the half, the Warriors never let the Argos get closer than nine points. The Warriors used a strong defensive effort and a 52.8 shooting percent from the floor in the second half to increase its lead to as much as 18 points.
The Warriors will play again tomorrow night when they host the Flying Queens of Wayland Baptist (Texas) in a 5:30 p.m. game.
"We are looking forward to a tough team tomorrow," said Moore. "Playing a very good, athletic team will be a good challenge for us."