Tsuneishi Nets 5, Westmont Advances to NAIA Quarterfinals

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Lauren Tsuneishi

SIOUX CITY, Iowa — Junior All-American guard Iyree Jarrett  tallied 30 points to lead second-seeded Westmont Women’s Basketball (12-1) to a 66-60 win Thursday over #15 Lyon of Arkansas (15-2) in the Round of 16 at the NAIA Women’s Basketball National Championship. 

The Warriors struggled offensively and trailed much of the game, but rallied to secure the win and advance to the quarterfinals.

Lauren Tsuneishi scored five points in the win, with an assist and two rebounds.

“Lyon is a tough team,” said head coach Kirsten Moore after the game. “It was a game that tested our resolve and our ability to handle another team playing well and being very physical. Those are some of the things we are used to doing well. We were able to stay composed, come out of halftime and respond. We made some adjustments that helped, especially on the defensive end.”

Westmont led for most of the first quarter and held a 17-14 lead at the end of the first 10 minutes of play. However, the Fighting Scots outscored Westmont 21-12 in the second quarter and took a 35-29 lead into the locker room.

Westmont righted the ship early in the third quarter, scoring the first 10 points and holding the Scots scoreless for nearly five minutes. Jarrett started the run with a jumper in the paint and then hit from beyond the arc, pulling the Warriors to within one (35-34). Three free throws by Stefanie Berberabe put Westmont up 37-35 before Sydney Brown scored in the paint to give Westmont a four-point advantage.

“I am really proud of the way my team stuck with it possession by possession,” expressed Moore. “One possession at a time, we worked our way back into the lead.”

The Warriors also took control of the boards in the second half.

“Our rebounds were huge,” said Moore. “Lyon beat us on the board by five in the first half, but we outrebounded them by eight in the second half.”

The Scots regained control in the remainder of the third quarter and outscored Westmont 15-9 to reclaim a 50-46 lead headed into the final frame.

Westmont pulled within two when Jarrett converted a couple of free throws and then took the lead (51-50) on Jarrett’s third 3-pointer of the night. A Lyon jumper temporarily restored the lead to the Scots, but a pair of free throws by Jarrett gave the Warriors a lead it did not relinquish.

Jarrett followed with her fourth and final three of the game before Tsuneishi connected from downtown, putting the Warriors up by seven (59-52) with 4:46 to play.

After the Scots’ Katie Turner scored on a jumper in the, Kaitlin Larson stepped out and dropped a three through the net to give Westmont its largest lead of the game (62-54), with 3:49 to play.

“Kaitlin’s three was huge,” noted Moore. “Down the stretch, we were able to take a lead that put us in command.”

Over the next two and one-half minutes, Westmont was outscored 5-1, but then the Warrior defense stiffened and held Lyon scoreless the rest of the way.

Jarrett, who scored 12 of her 30 points from beyond the arc, was 10 of 14 from the free throw line and scored another eight in the paint.

“Iyree was in attack mode from the tip and she has been this whole postseason,” said Moore. “She is a First Team All-American for a reason. She is a phenomenal player. I love that when we were struggling to get going offensively from the perimeter, she found a way to finish inside, to attack and to get to the free throw line. She made a lot of good things happen, in addition to hitting some good shots from outside.”

Berberabe notched 18 points for the Warriors, pulled down four rebounds, dished off five assists and recorded two steals. Larson led the Warriors in rebounding with 10 while Brown and Gabriella Stoll each added another nine to the Warriors’ total of 37.

“I was proud of how my team responded on a night when you see the opposite of what happened last game,” offered Moore. “We couldn’t get going from three. We were getting good looks, but they weren’t falling.

“It was our first day playing in an arena setting and for shooters that is a different feel and different background. We had not had a chance to practice on this court. I am hopeful that now that we have a game under our belt, the surrounds will feel better on Saturday.”

Before Saturday’s quarterfinal match-up, the Warriors enjoyed a day off from competition.

“We are not used to a day off at the national tournament,” quipped Moore. “We will use that to prepare. That is one of the things we do well. We will try to maximize the extra day we have.”

On Saturday, the Warriors took on #7 Clarke of Iowa, which won its game with #10 MidAmerican Nazarene of Kansas.

Courtesy Westmont Athletics

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