After a frustrating stretch of GSAC games Westmont Men’s Basketball (13-10, 6-8 GSAC) took out their frustrations on the bottom of the rim on Saturday afternoon. Against the Hope International Royals (16-8, 9-6 GSAC), the Warriors came out victorious by a score of 105-75.
“Everybody brought in tonight,” said Westmont head coach Landon Boucher. “I’m really proud of the team for bouncing back the way they did. To have a game like this where we put up a record number of threes with a ton of assists was phenomenal.
“That’s what Westmont Basketball has been built on, finding teammates.”
Whereas in recent games Westmont’s three-point shooting had let them down in big moments, the Warriors’ efforts from downtown on Saturday ensured there would be no such issue. In the first half alone Westmont converted eight of 14 shots from three-point range, with Cade Roth leading the club with a trio.
Westmont in total converted 18 of 34 from the field during the opening period, where the Royals shot just 12 of 32 without converting a single 3-pointer. By halftime, the Warriors hot shooting had put the club up 51-29.
At halftime of the game the Murchison Gym crowd remained in their seats for a special celebration honoring the 1971-72 Men’s Basketball team, which is remembered historically for being the last team in the tenure of Coach Tom Byron.
Saturday night marked the 51-year anniversary of the night that Westmont hosted NCAA Div. I #13 Hawaii on the day after Byron’s passing. Led by Fred DeVaughn’s 34-point effort, the Warriors banded together amidst a mourning community to upset Hawaii 90-89 in one of the most famous games in Westmont College history.
DeVaughn was in attendance for the ceremony, along with several of his Warrior teammates. Joining the leading scorer was Charles Anderson, Don Bregante, Andrew Hill, Charlie Meh, lRich Prehn, and Tim Walton. Coaches from the team in attendance were Ron Mulder and Dave Bregante, as well as Byron’s children, Tom Byron Jr. and Annie Byron Harris.
Also in attendance was team manager Don Volle, who is well known for writing a moving recollection of the events.
“It was great to have the ’72 team here tonight,” offered Boucher. “I hope we made them proud with how we handled ourselves and how we competed after such a frustrating stretch.”
Back on the court in the second half the Warriors did not slow down. After making eight 3-pointers in the first half, Westmont followed it up with another 11 in the second. With 19 threes, Westmont converted the second-most triples in single-game program history. Putting the Warriors over the century mark with 1:35 remaining was Cly Griffith Jr. with Westmont’s 18th 3-pointer of the night.
Ninety-five seconds later, the Warriors finished off a feel-good 105-77 victory. The Warriors ended the evening with seven scorers in double-figures, with both Drew Ramirez and Zeke Viuhkola leading the way with 18 points each.
“There was a sober feeling after the San Diego Christian loss,” acknowledged Boucher. “With that, the way we carried ourselves in practice and in shoot-around, I knew today was going to be different. I’m really proud of the guys for coming out and just putting that loss behind us.
“Collectively, this was probably our best game all year.”
The Warriors return to the court next Thursday in southern California, when they go head-to-head with the Vanguard Lions.
Jacob Norling is the sports information assistant at Westmont College.