AMHERST — Amherst and Westlake went back-and-forth for just over 27 minutes with the Comets nursing a two-point before the Demons finished Wednesday night on a 17-8 run to grab their first win of the year — a 59-52 decision.
Amherst picked a bad time to go cold from the floor, with the Comets hitting just one of their final nine shots — a 3-pointer by Marisa Gillam, who finished with 13 points and three threes. On the other side, the Demons hit 3-of-6 and drained 11 of 12 free throws to improve to 1-3 overall and 1-2 in the SWC.
“Every time we got that lead we started playing crazier,” Amherst coach Kevin Collins said. “We threw up bad shots and did stuff that we just have to get better at. In this conference every night is a battle. If we are willing to get better, we are going to be in it at the end. We just have to survive.”
The Comets (2-2, 1-2) were in control in the first quarter, pressuring the Demons on defense and making the extra pass on offense to get great looks. They made 7 of 14 shots to open up a 16-7 lead.
The scoring was spread around as Faith Lewis scored five points, Katie Turner had four, Gillam hit the first of her 3-pointers and Amherst got two points apiece from Amaya Staton and Kamryn Dziak.
Lewis was the only other Comets player in double figures, converting three field goals and going 6-of-8 from the free throw line for 12 points.
Westlake climbed back into the game by holding Amherst to just seven points in the second quarter, pulling to within 23-22, with Gina Adams scoring six of her game-high 19 points.
The two teams battled in the second half with neither able to hold more than a six-point advantage until Amherst’s Kate Iliff made a nifty baseline drive for a layup and a 44-42 lead with 4:54 left in regulation.
Abby Matalavage gave Westlake the lead for good by connecting on 3 of 4 free throws for a 45-44 lead at the 4:17 mark. The lead ballooned to 53-45 until Gillam drained a big three with just 1:14 remaining to give the Comets one last shot at getting back in the game.
“She is a shooter, she is a flat-out shooter,” Collins said of Gillam. “She hasn’t been able to practice a lot (knee injury) and to step in to hit those shots was huge. That’s what she does.”
Lewis and Gillam each dropped in a pair of free throws in the final minute, but it was offset by two points by Matalavage and four from Adams.
“We talked about winning close games, that you have to make foul shots and take care of the ball,” Demons coach Art Daniels said. “I thought we did a pretty good job of that. We turned it over a little bit. We have things to learn but our kids fought to the end.”
Contact James Brady at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Westlake 59, Amherst 52
WESTLAKE (59): Natalina Nader 1-0-3, Molli Mulder 1-4-7, Abby Matalavage 5-6-17, Abby Carrington 4-1-9, Gina Adams 7-5-19, Melanie Rence 0-0-0, Angela Campo 1-0-2, Stephanie Randar 0-2-2. Totals 19-18-59.
AMHERST (52): Audrey McConihe 0-0-0, Faith Lewis 3-6-12, Kamryn Dziak 3-3-9, Marisa Gillam 3-4-13, Kate Iliff 2-0-4, Katie Turner 3-0-7, Jill Wood 1-0-2, Amaya Staton 2-1-5. Totals 17-14-52.
Westlake 7 15 18 19 - 59
Amherst 16 7 13 16 - 52
Three-point goals: Westlake 3-15 (20 percent, Nader, Mulder, Matalavage); Amherst 4-10 (40 percent, Gillam 3, Turner).
Field goals: Westlake 19-56 (34 percent); Amherst 17-48 (35 percent).
Free throws: Westlake 18-25 (72 percent); Amherst 14-23 (61 percent).
Rebounds: Westlake 47, Amherst 30
Turnovers: Westlake 18, Amherst 17
Fouled Out: None
Junior varsity: Westlake, 41-26