SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – The Southwestern College women's basketball team put itself up against a perennial NAIA Div. 1 powerhouse on the first game of its California trip Thursday evening. The Lady Builders fell to the Warriors of Westmont College, 84-34, in the team's first game of the Westmont Holiday Classic, which took place inside Murchison Gymnasium in Santa Barbara, Calif.
Sophomore Kari Blattner led the Lady Builders with 10 points off the bench. The Cimarron, Kan., native finished 3-for-7 from the floor, and was 3-for-3 from the charity stripe. Blattner also tied for the team lead with three rebounds and added two steals.
Westmont's Aysia Shellmire led all scorers with 18 points.
Southwestern (8-7) shot a season-low 22.2 percent (12-54) from the floor, and 16.7 percent (3-18) from three-point range. The Lady Builders converted 70 percent (7-10) of their free throws, but were out-rebounded by Westmont (11-1), 46-23.
The Lady Builders kept up with the Warriors, which entered the game ranked No. 9 in the most-recent NAIA Div. 1 national poll, through the opening stages of the game. Westmont jumped out to a quick 7-2 lead, but five-straight points from Jordyn Miller helped Southwestern force a 7-7 tie at the 7:39 mark of the opening quarter. The game remained tied at 9-9 with 7:00 to play, but the Warriors took it from there. Westmont closed the quarter on a 10-2 run, and held a 19-11 lead after one quarter of play.
The Warriors made their statement in the second quarter. Westmont nearly shut-out the Lady Builders, holding Southwestern to just a pair of Kari Blattner free throws while putting up 25 points in the period to take complete control of the contest. By halftime, Westmont had built a 44-13 advantage. The lead swelled to as many as 39 (63-24) in the third quarter, then ballooned to as many as 53 (84-31) in the final minute before Westmont cruised to the 84-34 victory.
Thursday's loss drops Southwestern to 8-7 on the season. The Lady Builders will return to action Friday, facing The Master's University in the final game of the classic. The Master's defeated the University of British Columbia, 64-40, in Thursday's tournament opener. Tip-off is scheduled for 3 p.m. (Central) inside Murchison Gymnasium.