Westmont (9-2, 2-2 GSAC) was never able to overcome a slow start as Vanguard (7-4, 3-1) rode hot shooting to a 99-75 victory on Thursday night in Costa Mesa.
During the first 14 minutes of play, the Lions outscored the Warriors 32-8, and the uphill battle was too much to overcome for the Warriors, who have now dropped back-to-back contests.
“You can’t get down like that on the road, especially in an environment like that,” said Westmont head coach Landon Boucher. “We tried to do everything in our power to stop the bleeding in the first half, but nothing was going our way. Vanguard played extra hard tonight, and they always play hard, but tonight they were extra ready to go.”
Late in the first half, Westmont trimmed the once 26-point deficit to 17 going into halftime, as they trailed 45-28. The Warriors shot just 36% from the field (10-28) during the first half of play, and committed 12 turnovers.
Vanguard, on the other hand, had twice as many assists as the Warriors in the first half (12-6) and had only committed four turnovers. Defensively, the Lions locked down Nate Meithof in the first half, not surrendering a single point to the star freshman as he went 0-5 from the field.
Only a pair of Westmont players had more than two points going into the intermission.
“We were embarrassed in the first half,” admitted Boucher. “From there, it’s like ‘it can’t get any worse’. Then, early on in the second, guys saw the ball go through the hoop and it got us some mojo at the very least.”
After getting going down the stretch, Jalen Townsell led the club with 23 points, while Ajay Singh contributed with 16 of his own. Meithof and Jared Brown added 15 points each as well.
While Westmont shot 56% from the field in the second half (18-32), the deficit only grew larger, due the red-hot shooting of the Lions. In the second half, Vanguard shot 72% from the field (21-29) and made six of their nine three-point attempts en route to flirting with the century mark.
“We could not guard them,” stated Boucher. “We let our offense being slow set the tone for our defense. Our offensive filtered into the tempo for how we played all night and we were never able to get past that.”
Westmont surrendered 23 points off turnovers on the evening, and the Lions’ bench outscored Westmont’s bench 44-25. The Lions also had 14 more points in the paint.
The club returns to action on Saturday night when they host Hope International at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available on the Westmont Athletics website.
“We have to move on and learn from this,” said Boucher. “I think everyone, players and staff, needs to look in the mirror and think about how we can bring something more to the team. We have to turn the page quickly because Hope is really good and we have them at home.”
Jacob Norling is the sports information assistant at Westmont College.