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Women's Basketball: Lions stay the course

No. 4-ranked Vanguard withstands hot start by winless Cal Maritime to remain unbeaten through four games.

November 29, 2012|By Barry Faulkner

COSTA MESA — Competing against winless California Maritime Academy on Thursday, the unbeaten and No. 4-ranked Vanguard University women's basketball team didn't figure to have to worry about finding its sea legs.

But when the visiting Keelhaulers hit five of their first seven three-point attempts, then added a sixth three ball to take a 22-15 lead midway through the opening half, Lions Coach Russ Davis wondered if his three-game winning streak was headed for an unexpected iceberg.

"You look at their stats and they haven't shot like that the whole year," Davis said of a Cal Maritime squad that does not have a player taller than 5-foot-10 and had been averaging just fewer than 50 points per game, while allowing 80. "But they came out and started feeling it and when teams start feeling it like that, I start worrying a little. I knew they couldn't keep it going like that, but we had to play four different defenses before we could figure it out."

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Vanguard helped Davis feel better, as the Lions rallied for an 80-50 nonconference triumph that eventually resembled the expected disparity between the two teams.

The hosts used a 23-4 run over the final 9:13 of the first half to claim a 38-26 lead at the break, then continued to build the lead until the final minute.

Freshman Samantha Doucette, making her first collegiate start, scored a career-high 17 points to match senior Chelsea Alfafara and junior Nicole Ballestero for team-high scoring honors.

Doucette, inserted into the starting five to try to chase away some slow offensive starts, Davis said, missed her first three shots. But she made her next five — all from the perimeter, including a three-pointer — to net 11 points by intermission.

Alfafara heated up after halftime, hitting four of five three-point attempts in the final 20 minutes to finish five for 10 from beyond the arc.

Ballestero, a transfer from the University of San Diego who came in averaging nearly 20 points per contest, supplied her typically steady offense to allow the Lions to pull away. She also finished with seven assists to help the Lions produce 23 dimes on their 27 field goals.

"[Doucette] gives us a lot of offense and [junior guard Taylor Belmont] gives us energy," Davis said of the other new addition to the starting lineup.

Belmont had seven points and eight assists, without a turnover in 25 minutes, to earn praise from Davis.

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