PHOENIX, Ariz. -- After being outshot by nearly 10 percentage points (43.8 to 33.9), No. 9 Westmont women's basketball (17-8, 8-4 GSAC) was happy to get out of Phoenix with a 59-55 Golden State Athletic Conference win over the Firestorm of Arizona Christian (5-21, 0-12).
The Warriors overcame a lackluster shooting performance (20 of 59) with a combination of free throws, second-chance points and fewer turnovers. Westmont made 15 of 21 free throws compared to Arizona Christian's eight of ten. Fourteen offensive rebounds turned in to 13 second-chance points while the Firestorm had just three. The Warriors limited their turnovers to just nine against the Firestorms' 17, resulting in a 22 points off turnovers for Westmont and just six for Arizona Christian.
Kelsie Sampson led the Warriors in scoring and on the boards with 21 points and nine rebounds. Lauren Sende added 12 points and six rebounds while Esther Lee contributed 13 points and three boards. All but two of the Warriors' points were scored by the starting five.
Westmont held a 15-point advantage (43-28) with 14:38 remaining in the game. However, the Firestorm went on a 17-4 run to make it a two point game (47-45) with six minutes left in regulation. Two minutes later, Arizona Christian pulled even with the Warriors at 51-51 on a jumper by Prayer Branham (24 points, 4 assists).
Sampson responded with a layup and Lee followed suit, giving Westmont a 55-51 lead with 2:28 left. After being fouled by Sampson, the Firestorm's Tenisha Royston (12 points, 6 rebounds) brought her team back within two by making both free throws.
With 1:15 to play, Sende once again made it a four-point margin (57-53) by scoring on a layup. However, Aria Ham put the ball through the net to make the score 57-55 with just under a minute left on the second half clock. Neither team scored until Sampson drained two free throws with six second remaining to account for the final score.
The Warriors will conclude GSAC play with two home games next week. On Tuesday, Westmont will host Concordia. Then on Saturday, Westmont will take on Biola. Saturday's game will serve as Pink Night in which the Warriors participate in the Play of Kay campaign to combat breast cancer. On Saturday, Westmont's seniors will also be honored in a senior night ceremony.