Lady Blue Jays clinch spot in SLIAC tournament

The first-place Westminster College Lady Blue Jays scored the game’s first 12 points Monday night to lock up a berth in the SLIAC’s postseason tournament with a 76-67 win over visiting Fontbonne University.

Westminster College, which went into halftime with a slim 32-31 lead, stretched its winning streak to 10 games while improving to 15-5 overall and a flawless 12-0 in the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. The Lady Blue Jays also swept the season series with Fontbonne, having downed the Lady Griffins 76-68 on Dec. 1 in St. Louis.

Sophomore guard Kenna Cornelson put up 17 of her team-high 19 points in the first half Monday night to pace three players in double figures for Westminster. Junior center Liz Klaffenbach also provided 13 points and seven rebounds, while sophomore guard Hannah Kloster came off the bench to add 12 points.

The Lady Blue Jays, weathering 16 turnovers, shot 45 percent (27-of-60) from the field and made 79 percent (19-of-24) of their free throws. Junior guard Heather Letourneau collected a game-high eight rebounds as Westminster clipped Fontbonne 40-37 on the boards.

Chelsey Freymuth countered with a game-high 20 points to lead three players in double figures for the Lady Griffins (11-9, 7-4), who shot just 36 percent (20-of-56) and were tormented into committing 21 turnovers.

Shelby Ellison was next with 15 points for Fontbonne — which shot 85 percent (23-of-27) from the foul line — and Rana Boyd chipped in with 10.

The Lady Blue Jays travel to Blackburn (Ill.) College for a SLIAC matchup at 1 p.m. Saturday. Westminster manhandled Blackburn 77-58 on Jan. 6 in Fulton.

Westminster basketball (M).....66

Fontbonne University...............63

Sophomore guard Skylar Tolson connected on a pair of critical 3-pointers in the final 3 minutes Monday night to spark the host Blue Jays to the SLIAC victory over the Griffins.

Tolson buried a shot from behind the arc with 2:45 to play, giving Westminster College its first lead of the game at 60-59. On the Blue Jays’ next possession, he lofted in another 3-pointer to put Westminster up by four points with 2:12 left.

The Blue Jays (12-9, 9-3 St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference) — who have won two in a row after dropping three straight — shot a blistering 64 percent (16-of-25) in the second half to overcome a 32-21 halftime deficit. Westminster rallied after shooting a feeble 23 percent (7-of-30) in the first half.

Tolson — who finished with three 3-pointers — delivered a game-high 20 points to direct four players in double figures for the Blue Jays, who shot 42 percent (23-of-55) for the game and committed just six turnovers.

Freshman guard Joe James added 16 points for Westminster, which also defeated Fontbonne 81-66 on Dec. 1 in St. Louis. Senior forwards Jake Vislay and Justin Gilmore contributed 12 and 10 points, respectively, on Monday night.

Junior center Kelsey Weymuth pulled down a game-high eight rebounds to help carry the Blue Jays to a 36-28 advantage on the boards.

Freddie Fleming topped the Griffins (5-14, 4-7) with 18 points, followed by Raymond Woods’ 17 and Jahmall Thomas’ 10. Fontbonne shot 43 percent (25-of-58) as a team and finished with 14 turnovers.

Westminster — sitting in third place in the SLIAC — plays a conference game at Blackburn (Ill.) College at 3 p.m. Saturday. The Blue Jays bolted past Blackburn 89-68 on Jan. 6 in Fulton.

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