Westminster handles Howard Owls' strong defense frustrates Lions, 57-48


Westminster's disruptive defense was there from the start yesterday afternoon at Howard High.

And when the No. 18 Owls' offense also got cranked up late in the second quarter and in the early part of the third, it was simply too much for a young Lions team to handle.

With contributions from every player who stepped on the floor, Westminster came away with a 57-48 win over No. 14 Howard.

A 9-0 run at the end of the first half gave the Owls (2-0) a 26-20 lead at the break, and it carried over into the third quarter as they pulled away to a 15-point lead.

It all started with a tight man-to-man defense and some occasional pressure.

"It's definitely our strongest point," said Westminster senior guard Lauren Henry, who finished with 10 points and led the way defensively despite playing with a sore shoulder. "Everyone is aggressive and giving it 110 percent. It was a whole team effort out there."

Howard's zone defense gave the Owls some problems early on, and the halftime talk from Westminster coach Bernie Koontz emphasized the team's need to go right at it.

The Owls did, getting the ball inside to senior center Jill Ibex (15 points) to open the floor for senior guards Courtney Wunderlich, who finished with 11 points -- including a three-pointer with 5: 15 left in the third quarter to give the Owls a 34-23 lead -- and senior Kim Frame, whose jumper gave the Owls their biggest lead at 40-25.

"We needed a little penetration, to work the ball inside, instead of out on the perimeter," Koontz said. "We made the good run in the third quarter and used our press to get some turnovers, which gave us some easy baskets."

Although they were trailing big late in the third quarter, the Lions (1-1) didn't quit.

Howard responded with an 8-0 run, as senior standout Chanelle Carter (15 points) and junior forward Evelyn Nkwenti (13 points) got inside for a pair of easy baskets each.

Howard coach Craig O'Connell was pleased with his team's effort. He said the difference in the game was the Lions' 19 turnovers and their 9-for-19 showing at the free-throw line.

"We expected Westminster to be tough. They're an experienced team and well-coached," O'Connell said. "With only two seniors, we're still young. With inexperienced guards, you expect a certain amount of turnovers. In the third quarter, we came back and made it competitive. I was pleased to see that we didn't quit."

After Howard closed the gap to 40-33 with under a minute left in the third quarter, Frame scored on a drive and was fouled with 40 seconds left to give Westminster a 10-point lead.

In the fourth quarter, the closest the Lions would get was seven points. But the Owls sealed the victory by making seven of their last eight free throws -- including four straight by Henry.

Pub Date: 12/10/96

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