At the halfway point of the GSAC regular season Westmont Men’s Basketball (12-6, 5-4 GSAC) is over .500 in conference play thanks to an 86-73 win over San Diego Christian (3-7, 2-7) on Saturday afternoon. Westmont trailed by double-digits early, but wasted no time in evening the contest up by halftime.
Then, in the second half, Westmont pulled away with a double-digit lead in the final ten minutes.
“This is the best San Diego Christian team that I’ve seen since I’ve been on staff,” said Westmont head coach Landon Boucher. “They’ve beaten Hope handedly, and then took The Master’s to the wire back on Thursday. Our guys came in really humble, and came in ready to execute the game plan.
“The stat that really defined the afternoon was our ability to take care of the basketball. San Diego Christian leads the league in forcing turnovers, averaging right around 18 a game. Today, we only turned it over nine times. They pressed us all game, and we still had 18 assists to just nine turnovers. If we can continue a two-to-one ratio on assists to turnovers, we will be really tough to stop.”
Individually, Anthony McIntyre led the way with 24 points off the bench on eight of 12 shooting. The leading scorer also led the Warriors with a trio of makes from beyond the arc to go along with three assists. Behind McIntyre, Cly Griffith Jr continued his hot stretch with 17 points, while Amir Davis posted 13 points and a team-high seven rebounds.
“Cly had another really strong offensive game,” noted Boucher. “He made several plays down the stretch that we needed him to. Especially for him to come off the bench the whole year, and then today jump into the starting lineup, which isn’t an easy thing to do. That can be tough to do, but Cly put the team first and had some really nice minutes today.
“Anthony McIntyre was just amazing, playing 30 minutes off the bench. He made big plays on both ends of the floor.”
In the first half the Warriors were forced to play from behind as the Hawks jumped out to a 26-12 lead after the first 10 minutes. Fortunately for Westmont, as their offense got rolling, the Hawk’s came to a halt. While SDC converted six early 3-pointers, the Hawks shooting went cold down the stretch. On the other end of the court, Westmont made a point to get inside, outscoring the Hawks 26-16 in the paint during the period.
Highlighting Westmont’s inside threat was the aggressive play of McIntyre, who had nine points at halftime, and Davis, who contributed with eight.
Over the final 10:00 of the first half, Westmont outscored San Diego Christian 23-13, culminating in a last-second game-tying layup from Cade Roth. Similarly to Thursday’s game against Life Pacific, the Warriors found themselves in an early hole, but again, by halftime, the team went to the locker room with a manageable 39-39 tie.
The first seven minutes of the second half saw both teams turn the ball over a handful of times, with both sides repeatedly giving the ball right back in transition. At the 13:00 mark, Westmont trailed momentarily at 47-46. Then, a three from Roth put Westmont back on top and allowed the club to settle back in.
Cly Griffith Jr. followed up Roth’s 3-pointer with a pair of layups over the next two possessions, capping off a momentum-swinging 7-0 run at the 11:45 mark. At that point, Westmont led SDC 53-47. However, the Warriors did not immediately run away with things, scoring only five points over the next four minutes of action.
Westmont’s dry spell eventually allowed San Diego Christian to claw back in it and even go ahead at one point. With 7:30 remaining in the game, a 3-pointer from the Hawks put them up momentarily at 60-59. Less than 10 seconds later, however, Drew Ramirez answered with a three of his own, giving Westmont a lead they would not surrender the rest of the way.
The day’s dagger came at the four-minute mark, when Davis dove on a defensive loose ball and called a timeout. Following the forced turnover, a layup from Jalen Townsell put Westmont up 72-64, their biggest lead of the day so far. Then, one possession later, McIntyre drilled a back-breaking 3-pointer, putting Westmont up double-digits at 75-64 with three minutes to play.
Minutes later, the Warriors capped off the first half of conference play with an 86-73 win.
“In this league, the team that plays defense and rebounds in the second half is going to win,” said Boucher. “Against a tough team, on the road, in a day game, I was proud of our ability to get defensive stops and grab rebounds down the stretch.”
One of the quiet stories of the second half was the Warriors’ ability to contain SDC’s Josh O’Campo, who scored just seven points down the stretch, including a 12-minute span without a basket.
“I thought that Drew Ramirez just wore Josh O’Campo out in the second half,” reflected Boucher. “He was so physical, and just took him out of the game. O’Campo is a heck of a player, and a heck of a shooter, and it won’t show up in the box score, but Drew was huge to keep him at bay in the second half.
“Drew’s defense was one of the turning points of the day.”
Next weekend, in Arizona, Westmont will cap off a three-game road trip with contests at OUAZ (Jan. 19) and Arizona Christian (Jan. 21). Following the trip, Westmont will return home to host The Master’s on Jan. 28 in Murchison Gym.
Jacob Norling is the sports information assistant at Westmont College.