AMHERST – Westlake nipped Amherst in a Southwestern Conference overtime thriller on Saturday that lived up to expectations.
With a 59-52 victory, the Demons (4-1, 2-0 SWC) won at Amherst for the first time in coach Chip Weiss` six seasons as head coach. They also established themselves as legitimate SWC contenders, and did it without two of their first eight players – one with an injury, the other with a schedule conflict.
The Demons won for two principal reasons – size and free throws.
Their six-player rotation included two 6-foot-1 players and a third who`s 6-0. Amherst`s tallest is 5-10 Bridget Beury, and she was one of four Comets to foul out. She picked up three personals in the first six minutes.
Westlake shot 38 foul shots and made 21. They were 11-of-12 from the line in the four-minute overtime. The Comets shot only 12 for the game – two in overtime. They made 10.
The Demons also have a secret weapon that isn`t going to be a secret much longer. She`s 6-1 freshman post Kalpana Beach, who does just about everything and does it well. She scored a game-high 20 points, the third time in her five varsity games she has scored 20 or more.
Although her strong suit is inside play, she can shoot from almost anywhere, jumps and rebounds well, and can bring the ball up the court under pressure – all of which she did Saturday. She also scored a field goal and made four straight foul shots in Westlake`s 17-point overtime period.
“It was really physical under the basket and the refs didn`t seem to be calling that much,” said Beach. “But it sort of evened out at the end. A win like this means a lot to us because we`re undefeated in the conference. We`re really excited.”
If the Comets (2-1, 1-1 SWC) had not got into foul trouble, the outcome might have been different. But in addition to Beury, they also lost their second-tallest starter and leading rebounder – 5-9 Courtney Jarvis – plus Brittany Cruz and Miranda Szucs.
Westlake got another strong performance from senior guard Brooke Henderson, who contributed 18 points. She also played well defensively and, although it won`t show up in the box score, made the play of the game late in the fourth quarter.
She saved an important possession for the Demons when a long inbounds pass intended for her seemed to be going out of bounds. She leaped into the air toward the sideline, took control of the ball with one hand and bounced it out of bounds off an Amherst defender. The Demons kept the ball and Beach scored from close range.
“They really pressure you, so I went long,” Henderson said of the inbounds play. “I thought the ball was going out of bounds, but it didn`t. The only thing I could do was bounce it off that girl. It worked.”
There would have been no overtime without Jarvis, who made six foul shots without a miss for the game. She casually made the last two with four seconds left and Amherst trailing 42-40.
It was a see-saw game. Westlake led by two points after a quarter, Amherst by five at the half and by one after three quarters. It was tied at 42 after four. Westlake took a 46-42 lead on two 10-foot jump shots by Henderson in the first two minutes of overtime.
The Comets` Ashley Aponte made two foul shots, but the Demons moved in front 51-44 on a putback by Beach and Henderson`s three free throws. But Olivia Sliman kept Amherst within reach with back-to-back 3-point field goals that put Comets fans on their feet. But by then only 35 seconds remained, and in that time Westlake shot eight more foul shots and made six.
“I`m so proud of our team effort because I think we showed a lot of character today,” Weiss said. “We`re missing two important people, but the rest of the team really stepped up. Amherst is a very good defensive team and they made us play hard. This is a very tough place to win. I`ve never won here before.”
Sliman scored a team-high 16 points, including four of the Comets` six 3-pointers. Aponte added 10. Henderson finished with 18 points for Westlake and Ann Ryan scored 10, including eight of the team`s 21 foul shots.
“At some point, you gotta make a couple shots,” said Amherst coach John Rositano. “(Westlake) sat in that 1-3-1 (zone defense) and, I mean, you have to make shots. I`m a big believer in you have to play with a lot of pride, passion and emotion. We made some mistakes we have to fix, but if we keep playing with those three things, we`re going to win some games.”
Westlake 59, Amherst 52 (OT)
Westlake (59): Sammy Kilbane 1-0-3, Brooke Henderson 7-4-18, Amelia Serrat 1-0-3, Kalpana Beach 7-6-20, Ann Ryan 1-8-10, Lauryn Smith 1-3-5. Totals: 18-21-59.
Amherst (52): Ashley Aponte 4-2-10, Brittnee Crapo 0-0-0, Jenna Rositano 0-0-0, Brittany Cruz 2-0-6, Lizzie Soto 1-0-2, Bridgette Cruz 1-0-2, Olivia Sliman 6-0-16, Miranda Szucs 1-2-4, Courtney Jarvis, Bridgett Beury 0-0-0. Totals: 18-10-52.
WestlakeÂ Â Â 12Â Â 4Â Â 17Â Â Â 9Â 17 â€“ 59
AmherstÂ Â Â 10Â 11Â 13Â Â Â 8Â 10 â€“ 52
3-point goals: Westlake 2-9 (Kilbane, Serrat); Amherst 6-12 (Sliman 4, Brit. Cruz 2). Field goals: 18-52 (34.6 percent). Amherst 18-60 (30 percent). Free throws: Westlake 21-38; Amherst10-12. Rebounds: Westlake 39; Amherst 33. Turnovers: Westlake 20, Amherst 20. Fouled out: Beury, Jarvis, Brit. Cruz, Szucs).
Junior varsity: Amherst, 41-26.