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Westmont Ends Hillcat Season In Second Round

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Frankfort, KY -

No. 15 Rogers State couldn't overcome a slow start to the game offensively as No. 4-ranked Westmont College (Calif.) ended the Hillcats season in the second round of the NAIA Division I Women's Basketball National Championship at the Frankfort Convention Center.

Westmont (27-4) jumped ahead 10-0 in the opening 2:40 of play and RSU didn't hit double digit figures on the scoreboard until 10:45 remaining in the first stanza of action.

Ariani Silva cut the Warriors lead to 23-21 with a three-point bucket off a Kelby Fritz assist with 5:31 to go. Westmont's lead grew back to a 13 point advantage at the half 38-25.

Celina Gougis gave the Warriors their largest lead of the game at 18 points with 16:08 left in the contest with a two point bucket putting the score at 47-29.

Leah Smith drilled a three-pointer off a Silva assist to cut the deficit to just 10 points with 11:16 to go. A steal by Tugce Canitez led to an assist on a Kelsie Sampson field goal for the Warriors pushing the lead back to 18 with 6:03 remaining. A 10-0 run by RSU over the next two and a half minutes was punctuated with a three-point from the corner by Sierra Cornwell putting the Hillcats behind 62-58.

Esther Lee drilled a top of the key three-pointer to stretch the Warriors lead out to 11 points at 70-59 with 2:14 to go.

RSU would tally 11 points in the final stretch but the Warriors added seven points, five by free throws, to hold off the Hillcat comeback. The 77-70 Hillcat loss sends Westmont to the quarterfinals to face Westminster (Utah) on Friday.

Canitez led all scorers with 30 points as the senior pulled down 17 rebounds for the Warriors in the win. Sampson added in 19 points of her own for Westmont as the Warriors shot 49 percent from the field including 6-of-14 from behind the arc.

Smith totaled 26 points for RSU to lead the Hillcats in scoring as she made 4-of-9 from three-point range.

Silva added 19 points off the bench for RSU. The two guards along with Logan Froese, Sierra Cornwell, Rician Walker and Kelby Fritz played their final game in a Hillcat jersey.

RSU shot 42 percent from the field but made just 32 percent from three-point on 22 shots. The Hillcats made just ten trips to the charity stripe knocking down seven.

Westmont out-rebounded the Hillcats 41-33 while the Warriors totaled 19 assists as RSU forced 18 turnovers.

Rogers State (24-10) closes out its first season under head coach Roxanne Long. Seven players are expected to return from a Hillcat squad that finished third in the Sooner Athletic Conference.

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