Several questionable calls by the referees at the Riverside-Brookfield/Westmont girls basketball game left coaches, players and fans alternately frustrated. While it’s convenient and perhaps justifiable to blow the whistle on Saturday’s officials, RB coach Larry Rocco offered a simpler explanation for the Bulldogs’ 57-41 loss to the Sentinels.

“We struggled shooting the ball,” Rocco said. “We had great looks, but we just couldn’t knock down shots. It was just one of those days.”

The Bulldogs shot 28 percent for the game. Matching up against the Sentinels’ 6-foot-2 star center Sara Sternard (23 points), RB center Kelsey Egger held her own by scoring 17 points as the Bulldogs’ only consistent offensive threat. Elena Duve had nine points and Meghan Orgler added five.

“Coach Rocco wants us to pass the ball inside to Kelsey a lot,” said RB guard Danielle Peco, “but whenever we have an open shot, he wants us to take it.”

While RB had a solid game plan, Westmont (23-3) used its size advantage to snap the Bulldogs’ three-game winning streak.

“Overall, we’re playing better basketball,” Egger said. “We had a huge win against Nazareth [recently]. When we shoot effectively, we’re a pretty good team.”

Two free throws by Egger, a layup by Orgler and a corner jumper by Maggie Zeleny gave RB a 6-3 lead midway through the first quarter. The lead changed hands five times in a first quarter that the Sentinels ultimately won 16-13. In the second quarter, Westmont held a 25-17 advantage before RB responded with a 5-0 spurt to pull within 25-22.

Up 44-37 midway through the fourth quarter, the Sentinels went on a 13-4 game-ending run to seal the nonconference win.

“I think we were pretty confident coming into this game,” Zeleny said. “When our shots stopped falling, it made us feel a little uneasy and we got a little confused on our plays. We gave our best effort but fell short in the end.”

Reflective of the Bulldogs’ spirited effort, the 5-foot-1 Zeleny ventured into the paint for a few stealth offensive rebounds. The senior sparkplug also sprinted the length of the court on one memorably play to chase down a loose ball.

“I try to be as tough out on the court,” Zeleny said. “Whether I’m in the game or not, I’m always talking with my teammates to make sure they know what’s going on and help them stay positive.”

Despite their loss to Westmont, the Bulldogs have been showing marked signs of improvement over the last few weeks.

The team notched a pair of Metro Suburban Conference wins – 57-30 over Ridgewood and 58-38 over Fenton – highlighted by 16 three-pointers from the Bulldogs. RB also earned the aforementioned area bragging rights victory over Nazareth 62-58. Avenging a loss to the Roadrunners earlier this season, Egger netted 17 points and Orgler had 12 points, including eight in the fourth quarter, to lead the Bulldogs.