Westmont Men’s Basketball couldn’t quite hang on against the Menlo Oaks on Saturday, when they ultimately fell by a score of 74-73. Despite leading 40-25 at halftime, the Warriors eventually fell victim to an explosive second half run by Menlo.
In the second half, the Oaks outscored the Warriors 49-33, which ultimately sent Westmont home with a split from their Northern California road trip.
“I thought we had our best half of the year in the first half,” said Westmont head coach Landon Boucher. “To have that quality of a half on the road, against a good opponent, in a neutral site gym, I was excited. We looked really good, but it’s the tale of playing two halves.
“We were unable to play two halves today. Our offense is really good when we play defense, but when we let them do what they wanted to do, it carried over to our offense. In the first half, we were able to run off our stops, and we’re a great team in transition. However, when we had to start playing the ball from under the basket, it hurt us.”
In the first half, Westmont was led by the red-hot Cade Roth, who led all scorers at the break with 19 points. Despite scoring only six points in the final 6:30 of the opening period, Westmont’s early hot shooting allowed their lead to remain in double-digits, thanks to Menlo’s struggle to find their offensive footing.
Come the second half, however, Westmont’s dry spell offensively carried over from the end of the first, when the opposite soon happened for the Oaks. For the first ten minutes of the half the Warriors were able to hold the Oaks at bay, but Westmont’s inability to widen their advantage proved to be costly.
With under 11 minutes to play, the Warriors still led the Oaks by as many as 16, but over the next five minutes, disaster struck. From the 10:30 to the 6:39 mark, Menlo went on a game-changing 18-2 run. Whereas at the 10:30 mark Westmont led 54-38, by the time the game entered the final 6:30, Menlo had sprinted to knot things at 56.
With 5:55 to play, the Oaks got over the hump and took their first lead at 60-58, and from there, it was an uphill battle the rest of the way for Westmont. The Warriors tied things momentarily a possession later, only to go down for good following a make from beyond the arc for Menlo. The Oaks would ultimately lead by as many as six down the stretch, forcing the Warriors to foul the home team in the final moments of the contest.
With four seconds to go, Menlo iced the game with a pair of free throws to put them 74-70, and despite an Amir Davis buzzer-beating three, the Warriors fell one point short by a score of 74-73.
Roth ultimately finished with a game-high 24 points, but aside from the fifth-year, Westmont had only two other scorers add more than seven points. Amir Davis and Tone Patton Sr. joined Roth in double-digits, with each man adding 13 and 10 points, respectively.
“We keep saying it, we just have to keep getting better,” assured Boucher. “I’m hoping this game teaches us how to play two halves. To beat quality teams like this, we can’t just play two good halves, we have to play two great halves.”
The Warriors return to Murchison on Thursday, Jan. 12, at 7:30 p.m., when they host the Life Pacific Warriors in Santa Barbara.
Jacob Norling is the sports information assistant at Westmont College.