Westmont scored the game’s first basket in the first three seconds, but it couldn’t slow down Vanguard’s men’s basketball team all night on Tuesday in Costa Mesa.
The Lions shot 56.9% while running away with an 87-73 victory in a Golden State Athletics Conference men’s basketball opener.
“It’s always tough to play at Vanguard,” Warriors coach Landon Boucher said. “Even though there were no fans, I definitely felt like we were on the road.
“I felt like Vanguard got into a really nice rhythm really early, and we weren’t able to get into a rhythm.”
Vanguard (5-1) won its third-straight game while halting a three-game winning streak for Westmont (3-3).
Abram Carrasco led the Warriors with 23 points, just over his season average of 22.3. But 6-foot-7 senior Ajay Singh, who also came into the game averaging 20-plus points, was limited to only 12 minutes by foul trouble. He fouled out with 7:24 still left in the game after having gotten just four points and one rebound.
The Lions out-rebounded Westmont 33-18 and held it to 43.1% shooting.
“They really played physical,” Boucher said. “They picked us up full court, and I think it stunted us in getting into our half-court stuff.
“When we didn’t have any success on offense, it was deflating to us in getting stops … And it should be the other way around.”
Westmont fell behind 40-31 by halftime. Singh got his third foul in the opening minute of the second half as Vanguard scored the first five points of the period to improve its lead to 45-31.
“We couldn’t defend and we couldn’t score,” Boucher said. “They did a good job of pressuring us. We never could get over the hump and close that lead.”
Cade Roth, who scored 16 of his 18 points in the second half, got the Warriors back to within 10 points, 67-57, when he converted a three-point play off a steal.
Westmont also got back-to-back three-pointers by Carrasco and Tristan Lloyd to get within nine, 77-68, with just under three minutes to go. But James Moore answered with a three of his own.
Aziz Seck led Vanguard with 19 points on 8-for-10 shooting and eight rebounds.
The two teams will play again at Westmont with 7 p.m. games on both Friday and Saturday.
“It’s a three-game series, it’s not a one-game series,” Boucher said, “so we’re just going to try to make the adjustments, and get on the floor Friday and hopefully have a better result at our place.”