COSTA MESA — Students are still on break at Vanguard University, but the women's basketball team will be going to school in its remaining practices this week before Saturday's home clash against reigning NAIA champion Azusa Pacific Saturday night.
Instruction offered by Lions Coach Russ Davis will include offense, defense and mind-set, after a 68-49 setback to highly regarded Westmont in a Golden State Athletic Conference game Tuesday at The Pit.
Westmont (13-1, 3-0 in conference), ranked No. 5 in the NAIA, withstood a strong first-half showing by the No. 8-ranked Lions (8-3, 2-1). The Warriors then scored the first 18 points of the second half to seize a 46-27 lead.
Vanguard, which came in shooting 37% from the field this season, made just 17 of 51 field-goal tries (33.3%), including only six of 24 (35%) in the second half. The Lions, who have lost two of their last three games, are averaging 52 points in their last three contests after averaging 69.5 during a 7-1 start.
"It's the same thing," Davis said of his team's primary pitfall against the Warriors. "We don't have people stepping up and making shots. We've got to find somebody who can step up and make some plays for us."
Senior Paige Halberg had eight of her team-high 11 points in the opening half for the hosts, who saw their entire starting lineup outscored by Westmont junior star Tugce Canitez, who amassed 23 points, nine rebounds and eight assists.
Vanguard starters totaled 21 points and, outside of Halberg's four-for-eight field-goal shooting, netted just two of 17 shots from the field (11.8%).
Vanguard was held scoreless for nearly the first six minutes of the second half, during which time it committed six of its 18 turnovers.
The Lions, who played man-to-man defense, rather than their trademark zone, allowed Westmont to sink half of its 28 second-half field-goal attempts, including five of seven from three-point range.
"We've been playing better man than zone," David said. "We can't play our zone, when we're not hustling and we have got people who are still learning it and not being aggressive in it. We're going to be making some changes in practice. Look for some changes."
The lead changed hands five times in the first half, when there were four deadlocks, as the Lions battled the Warriors to a near-stalemate at the half.
But Canitez, a 6-foot-2 forward from Turkey who was a two-time community college All-American in Idaho, had 15 points in the final 20 minutes as the Vanguard defense continually broke down.
Canitez was nine of 13 from the field to top three Warriors who scored in double figures. Lisa Peterson, a 6-2 senior center, had 12 points and seven rebounds, while freshman reserve guard Aubrey Lincoln had all 10 of her points in the second half.
Junior Allison Burns came off the bench to contribute 10 points for Vanguard, which also received nine points from sophomore Taylor Belmont and seven from freshman Jordanna Smith to post a 28-19 advantage in bench scoring.
Junior reserve Chelsea Alfafara led the Lions with four steals, as Westmont had 19 turnovers.
Vanguard never led by more than two and held its last lead with 2:32 left in the first half, before Lauren Rock sank a three-pointer for the visitors.
Westmont led, 28-23, with 55 seconds left before intermission, but Vanguard scored the final points of the half to narrow the deficit to one before apparently cooling off in the locker room.
Golden State Athletic Conference
Westmont 68, Vanguard 49
West – Kittle 7, Canitez 23, Peterson 12, Beadle 4, Farias 3, Lincoln 11, Hensley 5, Rock 3.
3-pt. goals – Lincoln 3, Kittle 1, Farias 1, Rock 1.
Fouled out – None.
Technicals – None.
VU – Halberg 11, M. Drennan 3, Timmermans 4, Goddard 2, A. Drennan 1, Burns 10, Belmont 9, Smith 7, Alfafara 2.
3-pt. goals – Halberg 2, M. Drennan 1, Belmont 1.
Fouled out – None.
Technicals – None.
Halftime – 28-27, Westmont.