Women's Basketball: VU falls, remains in second

Westmont withstands 10-plus minutes without Canitez to maintain hold on first place.

February 05, 2013|By Barry Faulkner

SANTA BARBARA — Westmont senior Tugce Canitez is not only the marquee women's basketball player in the Golden State Athletic Conference, but also the entire NAIA. The 2012 GSAC and NAIA Player of the Year, who represented her native Turkey in the 2012 Olympic Games in London last summer, has seemingly everything one needs to dominate on the floor.

So integral is she to the game plan of both her Warriors and the opponent, the opponents' collective focus can wane when the 6-foot-2 forward exits the lineup.

This appeared to be the case for visiting Vanguard in the showdown for first place in the GSAC on Tuesday, as the Lions' efficiency noticeably dissipated when Canitez sat the final 10:53 of the first half with two fouls.


Though Vanguard maintained its four-point lead while Canitez was sidelined, the No. 4-ranked Lions (16-2, 7-2 in conference) failed to widen their advantage on the No. 8-ranked hosts (18-3, 9-0) into halftime. And that failure to generate more separation proved costly, when Canitez helped the Warriors pull away in the final 20 minutes and widen their lead in the GSAC standings.

"We could have had a big lead that first half when [Canitez] sat down.," Vanguard Coach Russ Davis said. "We got stuck on 27 or 29 points, made some turnovers and we didn't get the ball into Esther [Timmermans, who had 11 of her game-high 26 points before intermission]. We didn't take advantage."

Westmont, which earned a 66-56 triumph at Vanguard on Jan. 15 and has now won four straight and five of the last six against the Lions, scored the first five points of the second half, never trailed by more than two and erased its final deficit with 13:42 left in the contest.

Canitez amassed 11 of her 14 rebounds and 14 of her 22 points in the second half and sophomore reserve guard Esther Lee had 11 of her 14 points, including three of her four three-pointers, in the final 20 minutes to leave Vanguard agonizing over its missed opportunity.

"Focus is the word," Davis said after his team joined a long list of squads who failed to contain Canitez (third in the NAIA in scoring with 20.6 per game), who made all four of her first-half field-goal attempts. "Our lack of focus cost us the win today. We didn't execute offensively and we couldn't stop [the Warriors]. They ran the same set, getting [Canitez] the ball on the low block and she scored on about six of seven possessions."

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