Westminster managed just two field goals in the fourth quarter. The Owls missed six of their last seven free throws in the final 1: 11.
But it wasn't a game determined by Westminster's offense.
The No. 19 Owls used strong interior defense and tenacious rebounding to pull off a 49-45 upset of No. 10 Milford Mill in a Poly Invitational semifinal game last night. Westminster plays Park, a 40-29 winner over Poly yesterday, for the tournament championship tomorrow at 8 p.m.
The Owls (5-1) limited the Millers to 28 percent shooting (15 of 53) and forced 23 turnovers.
Senior 6-foot forwards Jill Ibex and Honesty Drumgoole led the way for Westminster, scoring 15 and 12 points, respectively.
The Owls also helped offset their 30 percent shooting (20 of 65) by grabbing 18 offensive rebounds.
"I think it was a little bit of desire and wanting the ball more," said Westminster coach Bernie Koontz of his team's defense and rebounding. "Jill and Honesty created a lot of second shots for us, and our guards even got on the boards."
However, Milford Mill (6-1), the defending Baltimore County champion, put together a strong run late in the game.
Down 45-34 with 3: 30 left in the game, Millers guard Jenna Bradford scored five straight points to cut the lead to six.
After Drumgoole converted an uncontested layup, Milford Mill scored another five unanswered points to pull within 47-44 after a Danielle Carter free throw with 1: 24 remaining.
But as Westminster failed to hit free throws, its defense didn't bend. The Owls held the Millers without a field goal on two attempts and forced a turnover in the final minute to preserve the victory.
"Our shots weren't falling in the beginning but they were at the end," Milford Mill coach Pam Wright said. "Of course, we played with a little more intensity at the end."
Milford Mill dug itself a deep hole to start the game, missing all 11 of its shots in the first quarter. The Owls missed their share, but scored three of their six field goals on second chances for a 15-2 advantage in the first quarter.
Milford Mill regrouped in the second quarter, going on a 12-4 run to get within 19-14. Carter became the fifth starter to score in that span, hitting a layup with 1: 30 left in the half.
"[Milford Mill] put a lot of pressure on us," said Koontz, whose Owls lost by nine to the Millers in the opening round of last year's Poly tournament. "It was a good test and hopefully we learned a lot."
In the other semifinal game, Rebecca Shapiro scored 13 as Park (6-2) knocked out defending tournament champion Poly (2-4).
Alana Roth added 10 for the Bruins, who will play in their first Poly tournament championship game.
The Engineers got within 27-25 when Mia Thomas converted a three-point play with 7: 25 remaining in the game.
But Park pulled away at the end, scoring the game's final nine points.
Shapiro sealed the game with a layin while being fouled to give Park a 38-29 lead with 51 seconds left.
Pub Date: 12/29/96