Westminster proved it is quality and not the quantity of depth that is important.
The No. 12 Owls, the smallest team in the tournament with nine players, received points from all four reserves in an 11-0 third-period ending run to defeat Bryn Mawr, 57-39, in the semifinals of the Poly Tournament yesterday.
Westminster (6-0) plays in the championship game against the winner of the Park-Poly semifinal tonight at 8.
"We played out our hearts out there, but they have nine nice players on that team," Bryn Mawr coach Nick Schloeder said.
"And every one of them beat us good out there."
Junior guard Emily Hickman maneuvered around a screen and hit a three-pointer to move Bryn Mawr to within 38-26 with 3:10 remaining in the third period.
Although the Mawrtians had cut the lead to its smallest margin since halftime, Westminster coach Bernie Koontz still inserted his only four reserves.
As the third period wound under one minute, Lauren Henry and Sherry Esposito each converted two free throws to increase the lead to 44-26.
Courtney Wunderlich then scored off an offensive rebound and Alyson Young knocked down a three-pointer with five seconds remaining to give the Owls a 49-26 advantage and their first 20-point lead of the game.
The bench contributed nine points in the third period, in which the Owls outscored Bryn Mawr 20-5.
"They are hard-working and young," Koontz said. "But they do a great job. They always put forth a good effort and I can count on them every single game."
In the first period, Owls senior forward Beth Lister (15 points, 10 rebounds) found space inside and scored seven of Westminster's 13 points.
But the Mawrtians (7-3) switched to a 1-3-1 zone early in the second period, sagging down to cut off the inside passing lanes and shut down forwards Lister and Jill Ibex.
The Owls struggled offensively for the first time, going without a field goal for 3 1/2 minutes. Then Westminster senior point guard Cassie Conklin discovered a pattern to the zone.
Exposing the zone's weakness, Conklin drove inside to produce three points and four assists in a 13-2 spurt for a 29-15 lead with 1:41 before halftime.
"When I penetrated, I saw players open on the wings," said Conklin, who finished with five assists. "The defense seemed to focus on the ball, and the player on the opposite side was always open."
During this span, the Owls' defense began to apply more man-to-man pressure. Bryn Mawr missed all seven shots from the field and made seven turnovers.
The only two Bryn Mawr points in this run came on free throws off a technical foul on the Westminster bench.
"I said two small things earlier and was warned by the officials," Koontz said. "Then my assistant [Sue Head] said something like 'pay attention to the game' and they jumped all over us."
The Mawrtians couldn't capitalize on the technical foul as Ibex (12 points, six rebounds) scored six points in the next two minutes to push the Owls ahead by 14.
Besides Bryn Mawr's zone defense, the Owls had to adjust to the outside shooting and ball-handling ability of 5-foot-11 Hickman. Hickman scored 24 points, including seven of Bryn Mawr's first 11 points to keep it close.
Westminster rotated five players on Hickman from 5-6 Henry to the 5-11 Ibex, but couldn't shut Hickman down completely. Other than Hickman, no Mawrtian scored more than seven points.
"We did everything we could against her," Koontz said. "We put our smallest to our biggest players on her. She is just a good well-rounded ball player."
The Owls, who never connected consistently on their outside shots, shot 39 percent (20 of 51). To offset the poor shooting, Westminster hit 11 of 15 free throws.
Lauren Kodlubowski led the defense that forced 23 turnovers with three steals.