Westminster found ways to remain engaged with basketball despite an unexpected number of days off because of bad weather that plagued Carroll County last week.
The Owls had about an hour of gym time Thursday, but it was the only time they could actually practice prior to Monday’s home game against Liberty with early dismissals and no school at all. Instead, the girls watched film Saturday morning to prepare for the Lions and practiced on their own time at home.
Sophomore Jillian Pumputis said being off didn’t phase the Owls and it showed as they held on to Liberty 47-44.
“In the end, it was execution,” Owls coach Dave Urban said. “We had timeouts left to use and there were difficult spots on the floor for in-bounds and we drew up and they ran three separate in-bounds plays after timeouts. They ran them exactly how we wanted so that execution ran off the last 35 seconds.”
Senior forward Zoe Costley said the Owls did a good job of stopping the Lions’ 3-point shooters, and Pumputis said it came down to the team’s offensive patience. Costley scored a game-high 25 points and added seven rebounds, and Pumputis notched seven assists and two steals.
Westminster used an 8-0 scoring run to build a dominating 15-3 lead over Liberty after the first quarter, due in part to seven points from Diehl, who notched a double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds.
Two early 3-pointers from Liberty’s Jess Littlejohn got the Lions going in the second quarter as the Owls’ defense continued to provide pressure. The Lions returned the favor, however, and held the Owls to just five points in the frame.
A pair of free throws from senior Alex Bull sparked an 8-0 scoring spurt for the Lions as they erased their deficit to tie the Owls, 19-19. Two layups from junior Jordan Nastos with less than a minute to play put the Lions over the edge by one, 20-21.
The teams traded shots back and forth and refused to let their opponent pull ahead by more than two points through the majority of the third quarter. A layup from Costley tied the teams 29-29, but a 3 from Bull gave the Lions a four-point advantage.
The Owls (12-6, 7-3 in the Carroll County Athletic League) scored 13 points in the third quarter and 11 of them came from Costley. She sank a pair of free throws and hit a layup before Littlejohn’s 3 put the Lions up 36-33 to close out the frame.
Westminster fired off six straight points in the fourth quarter, but Littlejohn responded with another 3 to tied the teams, 39-39, but the Owls continued to hold them off.
The Owls went 10-for-12 from the free-throw line against the Lions (6-10, 3-4), and Costley said that accuracy was crucial in the team’s victory.
“It’s something we definitely stress a lot in practice,” Costley said. “After we go through a tough drill, we go through our free throws so we can practice making them and when we’re out of breath and tired. A lot of the games we’ve lost have been by one or two possessions so making those free throws can change the whole outcome of the game, so it’s definitely super important for us.”
Liberty (44): Rachel Thiem 4, Christine Goetz 1, Jordan Nastos 13, Alex Bull 10, Jess Littlejohn 16.