FRANKFORT, Ky. — The Westminster College women’s basketball team cruised into the second round of the 2013 NAIA Division I Women's Basketball National Championship for the fifth-consecutive season with an 69-55 win over St. Catharine (Ky.) Thursday afternoon in the Frankfort Convention Center. Westminster (28-3) will meet championship newcomer Faulkner (Ala.) in the second round on Friday at 10:30 a.m. MDT.
The Griffins led by as many as nine points, 17-8, in the first half before Janae Howard sparked a 13-4 St. Catharine run with seven-straight points to tie the game at 21 with 6:52 remaining before the break. Westminster's cold streak continued with Tia Pappas' basket at 6:26 acting as the Griffins last field goal of the half. The drought allowed St. Catharine to grow a 34-27 halftime lead.
Howard finished the opening period with 17 points on 6-of-10 shooting, including a pair of 3-point baskets. She also added seven rebounds and one block in the opening period. As a team, the Patriots shot 38.7 percent (12-of-31), while Westminster was limited to only 31 percent.
Westminster shook off the rust in the second half, exploding for 42 points on 15-of-30 shooting. Brooke Larson, who was held scoreless in the opening half, sparked the effort with a 3-pointer on the half's opening possession. She would go on to score a team-high 10 second-half points.
The Griffins grew their lead to as much as 16, 67-51, on a pair of Larson free throws late in the half. St. Catharine's offense shut down during the period, converting only 29 percent of its shots, including a 16.7 percent effort from the 3-point range.
Nicole Yazzie paced Westminster with 17 points and four assists, followed by Allie Eastman's 15 points. The Griffins ended the game shooting 40.7 percent from the field and 88.2 percent (15-of-17) at the charity stripe.
Howard led all scorers with 25 points, while also grabbing 11 rebounds for her sixth double-double of the season. Rielly Poirier and Machera Calhoun were also in double figures for the Patriots with 11 points each.
St. Catharine, which was making its first appearance at the NAIA Division I Women's Basketball National Championship, ends the season with a 19-12 record.