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No. 3 Fountain Valley Beats No. 10 Westminster

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It wasn’t a fluke.

That was Westminster Coach Dick Katz’s message after his team, coming off a victory over Woodbridge, gave Fountain Valley all it could handle in a nonleague game on Tuesday in the Barons’ gym.

Fountain Valley, ranked third in Orange County, shot 63% from the field in a 71-65 victory, despite trailing by five late in the third quarter.

Westminster (12-3), ranked 10th after its 61-59 upset of Woodbridge--ranked No. 1 in the state and third nationally at the time--shot 51.8% and led, 47-42, in the third quarter. Still, Katz wasn’t happy afterward.

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“We didn’t play like we could play--we looked like we had tired legs,” Katz said. “Maybe it’s my fault for not practicing on Jan. 1, or maybe we don’t know how to handle big wins. But right now, we’re a hell of a basketball team.”

The Lions got 22 points from Tanzenika Holmes and 17 from Kristin Schult, who also had 10 rebounds. Her free throws with 3 minutes 15 seconds left tied the score, 63-63, but two players who do know how to handle big victories--Fountain Valley’s Nicole Strange and Jennifer Ludwicki--stepped forward.

Strange scored twice inside, and Ludwicki hit an eight-foot baseline jumper to make it 69-65 with one minute left.

Strange (nine rebounds, five steals) had eight points in the fourth quarter for the Barons (15-2) and Ludwicki had seven.

“The turning point was when we went to a small perimeter lineup and put Nicole and Jennifer inside--we ended up with a bit of a mismatch with Nicole,” Fountain Valley Coach Carol Strausburg said. “I thought we played horribly, though. We tried to do too many things that weren’t there.

“The way we played and the pressure defense [Katz] has--and the way he has them playing--we were fortunate to win.”

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