SANTA BARBARA — Junior guard Stefanie Berberabe scored 21 points, pulled down seven rebounds and tallied six assists as #4 Westmont Women’s Basketball (8-1, 5-0 GSAC) defeated #12 Vanguard (5-4, 2-4) by a score of 63-60 to conclude a three-game sweep of the Lions.
Rarely does a Westmont basketball team play the same opponent twice in the same week, but the Warriors and Lions matched up three times in five days in what turned out to be the series that determined the GSAC West champion and the recipient of an automatic berth in the NAIA National Championship.
Sydney Brown connected on seven of 11 shots from the floor on her way to a 17-point performance. Iyree Jarrett added 10 for the Warriors and dished off six assists.
Lauren Tsuneishi scored six points with a pair of rebounds in the win, while Krissy Miyahara added a point and solid defense off the bench.
The Warriors built a seven-point lead in the first quarter, which then expanded to a 30-22 advantage at the end of the first half of play. By the end of the third, Westmont was up 48-38.
However, the Lions refused to give up without a fight and battled back to come within three with 1:44 left in regulation. Unfortunately for Vanguard, however, those were the last points either team would score.
Prior to the game, Westmont honored three seniors for their contributions to the Warrior program – Miyahara, Tsuneishi and Taylor Rarick.
While only in her junior year as far as athletic eligibility goes, Miyahara will graduate from Westmont in May with a degree in economics and business. She is both an NAIA and GSAC Scholar-Athlete and this year will receive Westmont’s prestigious Gold Eagle award.
On the court, Miyahara was acknowledged as a vocal leader who gives energy to her team and one of the best “spot-up 3-point shooters in the history of Westmont Women’s Basketball.”
Tsuneishi was honored as someone who “proved the skeptics wrong” that thought she was too short to play college basketball. Named a member of the NAIA National Championship All-Tournament team as a freshman, Tsuneishi went on to rewrite the Warrior record book in multiple categories.
While her playing career has been remarkable, Tsuneishi was acknowledged as “the lynchpin around which Westmont’s culture has held secure and passed through generations of Warrior players.”
Tsuneishi was also recognized as “a servant leader to her very core” with a “relentless work ethic and tenacious spirit to never give up,” who has “led our teams through a plethora of obstacles over the years to remarkably come out stronger now than ever before.”
Rarick was also noted for her ability to shoot from long distance. Her seven 3-point field goals against Life Pacific remain a fixture in the Warrior record book.
Rarick will graduate in May with a degree in kinesiology and will attend the top graduate school in the country for physical therapy.
Once the final buzzer sounded, more celebration ensued – this time involving the cutting down of nets. Though Warrior fans were certainly missed during the traditional championship ritual, there was no shortage of joy over reaching a milestone of winning a conference championship and earning a spot in the national tournament.
The Warriors have one more conference game on tap before postseason play can begin. On Friday, Westmont will travel to Fullerton to make up a game against Hope International that was previously postponed.
In keeping with state mandates spectators will not be admitted to the event.
However, fans can watch the game at https://portal.stretchinternet.com/hiu/.
— Courtesy Westmont Athletics
In their next-to-last conference matchup of the season, the HIU Royals fell to Vanguard, 73-47.
The two teams had already played three conference games where the Lions led the series 2-1.
HIU struggled to find the net in the first quarter, while the Lions scored 23 points to gain an early lead that they would maintain the entirety of the game.
Both teams battled on defense as only seven points were scored in the first five and a half minutes of the second quarter. The Lions continued to grow their lead and the Royals trailed at half 35-16.
HIU picked up their offense in the third quarter with help from back-to-back 3-pointers from Taryn Uyematsu. However, Vanguard continued to stay hot on offense and lead by 20 points after the third quarter. The Royals would not be able to come back from their early deficit and dropped their final game against the Lions.
Shiane Talley led the scoring for HIU with 13 points and Uyematsu finished with 10 points. Katie Kubo added 3 points and a pair of assists in 18 minutes off the bench.
HIU will play their last conference game on the season Friday at home against Westmont.
— Courtesy HIU Athletics