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Women's Basketball: Top-ranked Lions fall

Vanguard has little time to savor No. 1 ranking, as Westmont wins third straight at The Pit.

January 15, 2013|By Barry Faulkner
  • Vanguard's Nicole Ballestero, center, goes up for a jumper against Westmont's Celina Gougis, left, and Kelsie Sampson during a Golden State Athletic Conference game on Tuesday.
Vanguard's Nicole Ballestero, center, goes up… (SCOTT SMELTZER,…)

COSTA MESA — The consensus in sports is that numbers don't lie. But they can occasionally deceive.

The latter may have been the case Tuesday, as the Vanguard University women's basketball team needed less than 12 hours to refute the No. 1 national ranking bestowed upon it earlier Tuesday for the first time since 2007.

The case against the Lions' unanimous ascension to the top of the NAIA Division I poll was presented by visiting No. 11-ranked Westmont, which earned a 66-56 Golden State Athletic Conference victory at Vanguard for the third straight season. Vanguard Coach Russ Davis admitted the Warriors (12-3, 3-0 in conference), who swept the Lions (11-1, 2-1) last season, have his team's number.

Davis also reverted to a number to note the biggest factor behind the Warriors' latest conquest.

"No. 12," Davis said succinctly, referring to Westmont 6-foot-2 senior Tugce Canitez, the NAIA and GSAC Player of the Year as a junior, who represented Turkey in the London Olympic Games last summer. "They have No. 12 and we don't. She played great."

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Canitez, who averaged 25 points in the two wins over Vanguard last season, led the winners with 23 points and 16 rebounds. She added four assists, one block and one steal in 36 minutes. Canitez, however, took her time to assert herself, going without a shot attempt for nearly the first 6 1/2 minutes.

Canitez had just eight points at halftime, two fewer than 6-1 junior teammate Kelsie Sampson, who sank five of her seven first-half field-goal tries to lead all scorers with 10.

Vanguard standouts Esther Timmermans and Nicole Ballestero had six points apiece at halftime, as the Warriors held a 34-32 advantage.

Ballestero, a junior guard who leads the Lions in scoring in her first season after transferring from the University of San Diego, accelerated her game early in the second half. She scored eight points during a 10-2 Vanguard run that created a 49-45 lead for the hosts.

But after Ballestero slithered through defenders for a transition layin with 12:21 left in the game, the Lions produced just one field goal over the next 7:14. By the time Alison Drennan swished a three-pointer with 5:07 left, Westmont had built a 58-49 advantage.

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