For most of this season, the Westmont men’s basketball team has been lights out from the floor both inside and outside the arc.
Not many teams have had an answer for how to stop the Warriors offense and on Thursday night, neither did William Jessup.
In a battle between the two teams, both sharing the mascot Warriors, it was No. 4 Westmont who came out the impressive victor, defeating No. 21 William Jessup 88-73 at Murchison Gymnasium.
For the game, Westmont (22-2, 11-1) shot 47.5% from the floor and 36% from deep.
“This is a big win for us. Every game for us is a big win, that is just the mentality that the championship teams have,” Westmont’s Abram Carrasco said.
“You want to treat every game like it’s a championship game and I feel like lately, we’ve been locking in more knocking the tournament and beyond is coming up.”
Carrasco certainly played like it was a championship contest. The junior guard scored a game-high 31 points, finishing 11-for-18 from the floor, and also picked up 10 assists to finish off the double-double.
“It’s amazing, but all the credit goes to my teammates. They allow me to do what I do and just keep giving me confidence day in day out. They are truly the best,” Carrasco said.
In the first half, in particular, Carrasco was something special.
In the first 20 minutes of the game, Carrasco scored 19 points, shooting 7-of-10 from the floor, including knocking down 3-for-5 shots from beyond the arc.
“I was just locked in for this one. The first game was a little tough and this feels like a rivalry already. They have great guards like (Luis) Medearis and they are really tough players but I just knew that I was gonna have to come in extra prepared for this game and I felt like I did that,” Carrasco said.
Carrasco needed to be great in the first half because, at the start of the game, William Jessup’s Medearis was causing a lot of problems.
With William Jessup leading 16-14, Medearis scored the next 12 points for the visiting Warriors side, with all his shots coming from beyond the arc.
His final three with 9:54 left in the first half put William Jessup 28-23.
From there, however, the home Warriors stole the show.
They ended the half on 29-10 run which included 11 points from Carrasco and six total makes from beyond the arc, half of which belonged to the junior guard.
Westmont led 52-38 at the break.
Regular rotation player Gyse Hulsebosch also filled his role nicely, knocking down two treys during the big run.
“I feel like my role is come in and look for an open shot or really gave my teammates involved and I feel like I was able to do that at times,” Hulsebosch said.
Medearis was also a non-factor from that point forward. After scoring 14 of his team’s first 28 points, the senior guard was held scoreless the rest of the way, with Carrasco being the main guard on him.
“I was just able to lock in more and contain him and I was giving him a little more cushion because I didn’t think he could make some of the shots he was making early in the first half,” Carrasco said.
Even more impressive in the first half, Westmont totaled zero turnovers while shooting 54% from the floor and 50% from deep.
“Great guards,” Westmont coach John Moore said after being asked how his team was able to go 20 minutes without a turnover.
“We have three great guards and the guy you were talking to (Abram Carrasco), he’s one of the best. He had 19 at halftime and I thought was gonna go for 40.”
William Jessup had one more run left in them, however. Trailing by as many as 17 in the third quarter, the visiting Warriors knocked down three-pointers on four straight possessions within a 1:44 span to trail 59-55.
“I thought it was six, maybe I should have been a little more nervous than I was,” Moore cracked.
“But seriously, when you have a guy like Abram he steadies everything and our defense fell into place in the second half after that. Once they cut it to four we built it back up to 15 because of the guys we have.”
As Moore pointed out, Westmont steadied the ship as Carrasco scored the next six points in what would be a 10-1 run to stretch the lead back out to 13 with a bit over 10 minutes remaining.
Westmont led by double-digits the rest of the way to take the game with ease.
“This win is special because William Jessup was two games behind us and now they’re three games behind us. And, we want to win home games. There have been times where we’ve won 45 in a row here at home. The Master’s took one from us earlier in the year but we want to get back into this being a place where Westmont is just ready to attack all the time,” Moore said.