A driving layup with just over one second remaining in regulation by The Master’s Darryl McDowell-White was enough to not only give the No. 7 ranked Mustangs a win at Murichson Gymnasium, 70-69, but also hand the No. 4 Westmont men’s basketball its first loss to a non-Div. 1 opponent this season.
“This was a great college basketball game between two top-10 opponents and I think we belong right where we are and they belong right where they are. There’s a reason that they won a number of league championships in a row, they just know how to get the ball to the right guy at the right time,” Westmont coach John Moore said.
The loss drops Westmont to 17-2 overall and hands it its first loss in Golden State Athletic Conference play. The Master’s improves to 15-3 and 5-2 in GSAC play.
Moments before McDowell-White’s shot, the Warriors’ Hunter Sipe nailed a 3-point shot from the corner to put his team up 69-68 with 7.2 seconds remaining.
“He’s an unreal player man. He’s always there for us in the clutch moments and he’s always ready to knock down those corner threes every time. That was a great moment, I’ll remember that one,” senior guard Justin Bessard said.
The shot not only sent the team into a frenzy but the fantastic crowd on hand at Murchison Gym.
“It was a great crowd, phenomenal warrior support. They (The Master’s also) had a lot of support with their fans as well. It was just a great college environment and I just hope to get the same kind of environment over and over again,” Moore said.
After Sipe’s three went, The Master’s quickly got the ball in and ran across halfcourt where it called its final 30-second timeout.
Out of the timeout, the ball was inbounded straight to McDowell-White, who quickly took a screen at the top of the three-point line and darted to the basket.
McDowell-White then went straight up and knocked in a beautiful, acrobatic layup off the glass over two Westmont defenders to put his team up with 1.6 seconds remaining.
The Warriors quickly got the ball into Noah Fernando who was standing beyond midcourt. The freshman’s shot was blocked, however, giving the Mustangs the road upset.
“I think we just wanted to make sure that it wasn’t going to be dumped down to (Tim) Soares and they did a great job of putting the ball in the hands of a really important player for them. I thought McDowell-White made a really clutch shot there,” Moore said.
The game-winning shot was McDowell-White’s only basket of the second half.
“We have had this one marked off on our calendars for a long time now and to end it in that fashion is pretty heartbreaking,” Bessard said.
“There’s not much to do but keep it moving and hope we could get it back at their house.”
Westmont led by eight at the break after shooting the lights out from deep, knocking down 8 of its 19 (42.1%) shot attempts. From the field, the Warriors were 14-for-34 (41.2%).
To start the second half, Westmont was playing even better.
The Warriors extended their lead to as many as 14 points in the second half, knocking down a variety of shots, both inside and beyond the arc.
However, The Master’s never gave up, continually chipping away at the lead. It helped that the Mustangs kept getting to the foul line as well.
Senior center Tim Soares also played a huge factor in the second half for the Mustangs with 14 points in the second half and collected seven rebounds. He finished with a game-high 26 points and 12 boards.
“He is the one that killed us. If they didn’t have him tonight they don’t win this game. He has a big presence down there and he’s a good player. We’re going to just dig a little bit more just and work earlier.
“(I feel) the ref protected him a lot tonight (as well) and I don’t really understand how they protect the big dude, but you know it is what it is. We keep it moving,” Bessard said.
After leading by as many as 14, the Mustangs had brought it to within one with under seven to play. A runner by Westmont’s Abram Carrasco with 6:12 remaining put Westmont on top 61-58.
From there, the Warriors offense would go cold, missing their next six shots and turning the ball over twice over the next three and a half minutes.
On the flip side, the Mustangs mounted a comeback. A free throw by Soares followed by a layup with just over five minutes remaining tied the game.
A free throw by The Master’s Jordan Starr, followed by another pair of points from the charity stripe from Soares put the Mustangs ahead, 64-61.
Finally, with 1:27 remaining, the Warriors Cade Roth drew a foul and nailed his two foul shots to bring his team back within one.
Trailing by three, Gyse Hulsebosch nailed a three for the Warriors to tie up the game at 66 with 45 seconds remaining.
Starr then made a layup for The Master’s to put them back up two before Sipe nailed the corner three and McDowell-White made the game winner.
“They’re (Westmont) bent out of shape because they felt like this game was a winnable game, and I felt like at the end when hunter hit that shot it was going to be a difference-maker,” Moore said.
“But these guys are going to bounce back. They are tremendous warriors, tremendous tough-minded winners.”