The Westminster women's basketball team became the 2016 St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SLIAC) Champions after Saturday's senior day 88-71 win over Principia College. With the win, the Westminster Blue Jays extended their winning streak to 14 games, the longest current winning streak in mid-Missouri basketball at this time and one game shy of tying the program's winning streak record. The Blue Jays end the regular season with a 16-2 conference record and a 20-4 overall record.
The Blue Jays jumped out to a 5-0 lead, but Principia scored six points to take a 6-5 lead 2:33 into the game. The Blue Jays knotted up the game twice more before an 11-0 run on the third lead change gave them a 10-point advantage, 20-10. Two free throws from senior Krista Armontrout gave the Blue Jays a 13-point lead with 2:35 to play, but Principia closed out the quarter with two buckets to send the game into the second quarter with the Blue Jays leading 25-16.
Principia completed their 12-0 run 2:34 into the second quarter, bringing the game within one, 25-24. The Blue Jays extended their lead to four with a three-pointer by junior Payton Gruber, but with 2:43 left in the half, Principia tied the game at 30-30. Junior Andrea Zalis made her two free throws to take the lead, and two three-pointers by Gruber and senior Kasey Gatson gave the Blue Jays an eight-point lead, 38-30. Principia closed out the half with three points scored, sending the game into halftime with the Blue Jays leading 38-33.
Principia brought the game within three just 30 seconds into the second half, but a layup by senior Mackenzie Haddox brought the Blue Jays up by nine, 50-41. Principia stayed on pace with the Blue Jays throughout the third quarter and with 0:08 on the clock the Blue Jays led by only five. Gruber hit a three at the buzzer to start the final quarter with an eight-point lead, 60-52.
Gruber continued her run by scoring the first eight points of the fourth quarter, and Armontrout closed out the 13-0 run with a layup to take an 18-point lead, 70-52. A three-pointer by Theroff and a bucket in the paint by Armontrout gave the Blue Jays a 22-point lead, the largest of the game. Principia closed out the game with a 5-0 run, ending it with a final score of 88-71.
The Blue Jays shot 49.2 percent from the field and 55.6 percent from the three-point line, and the team finished with five Blue Jays shooting in double digits. Armontrout led the team with 20 points while shooting 7-for-12 from the field and 6-for-6 from the foul line. Gruber added 17 after shooting 5-for-6 from the three-point line, and Zalis added 16 points and led the team with eight rebounds. Gatson scored 13 points, pulled down seven boards and dished in seven assists.
Since the Blue Jays are the conference champions, they will host the SLIAC Tournament on Friday-Saturday, February 26-27. Their semifinal game is versus Eureka at 8:00 pm on Friday, which the championship game set for Saturday at 7:00 pm.