Westmont men’s basketball (8-1, 2-0 GSAC) outlasted the Ottawa (Ariz.) Spirit (4-2, 1-1) by a score of 84-75 on Saturday, allowing the Warriors to escape the first weekend of GSAC play with a pair of victories.
After the Warriors built a double-digit lead in the second half, it was a matter of holding off OUAZ down the stretch. While a late lead change saw the game hanging in the balance in the final two minutes, Westmont was able to come away with the game’s final run to take the contest.
“Us being nine games in, still doesn’t give an indication of how new we are as a team,” said Westmont head coach Landon Boucher. “We’re learning who we are still, while also learning how to win tight games against top-tier teams in the nation.
“Coming off the ACU game, we got up 15 and were mentally and physically tired. By taking a couple timeouts we refocused, got back into our rhythm, and found a way to get it done. The biggest thing is, win or lose, we’re taking lessons from each and every one of these games.”
During the first half of action, offense told the story of the day with both teams shooting over 50% going into intermission. Westmont shot 54.3% from the field (19-35), which was highlighted by their ability to make eight of 14 three-point attempts in the first half. On the other end of things, OUAZ shot at a mark of 53.1 % (17-32), while making just two of seven from beyond the arc.
Individually, three Warriors scored in double-figures during the first half, with Cade Roth leading all scorers with 16 points. Roth, who converted a trio of 3-pointers during the half, closed out the final minute of the period on an individual 5-0 run, allowing Westmont take a 47-42 advantage into the locker room.
After nine lead changes in the first half, the two sides went almost the entire second half without necessitating another. With 17:50 left in half, Anthony McIntyre hit the first of three consecutive 3-pointers that saw the Warriors take control.
After Jalen Townsell hit the second, Roth drained another with 16:00 to play that put Westmont up a game-high 61-46. From there, the offense began to cool down, with a dangerous run beginning at the 9:15 mark in the half. With 9:15 to play, Kyler Warren collected an offensive rebound and quickly assisted Townsell on a layup beneath the basket.
Following Townsell’s layup, with Westmont leading 71-62, the Warriors did not score for almost six minutes. With 3:35 left, a free throw by Amir Davis ended the streak, but by that time, the Spirit had clawed back to make it a two possession game. Then, with 2:22 to play, a pair of free throws gave OUAZ a 73-72 advantage, their first of the second half.
Coming out of a timeout, and with the shot clock winding down, it was once again Roth who claimed the spotlight, this time draining a go-ahead 3-pointer to put Westmont back up 75-73. After a stop on the defensive end, Townsell continued the final swing of momentum with another shot from beyond the arc, putting Westmont up 78-73 with 1:13 remaining.
A few minutes and a handful of free throws later, the Warriors had officially hung on to win it 84-75.
“Again, it was Cade who hit that three to end our dry spell.” Noted Boucher. “Cade is in rhythm, he’s confident, and he’s playing like our most experienced Westmont Warrior. When Cade plays like that, it displays how many weapons this team actually has.”
Roth led the way with a season-high 29 points and four assists, while McIntyre added in 16 points of his own. Townsell, who hit four 3-pointers, finished with 14 points, while Davis, who also scored 14 points, led Westmont with eight rebounds.
Warren was the only Warrior to score off the bench, as the returning bigman contributed with five points, a pair of rebounds, and an assist.
“Kyler was amazing off the bench,” nodded Boucher. “Especially with Jalen in foul trouble early, for him to come in, hit a three, and just have great energy, it was huge for us. If you look at a box score, sometimes you don’t see the impact players like Kyler have. He came in and gave us a boost when we needed it.
“Jalen Townsell had an amazing game today, too. He made some clutch shots and guarded some of the best players on their team. I’m really happy with his line, going four of six from three and coming down with some big boards as well.
“We’re taking it one step at a time, one game at a time, and we’re excited to get back after it on Wednesday.”
The Warriors return to action for a pre-Thanksgiving contest on Wednesday, when they host UC Merced at 2 p.m. in Santa Barbara. Links to live coverage are available on the Westmont Athletics website.
Jacob Norling is the sports information assistant at Westmont College.