SANTA CLARITA – The last time the Westmont men’s basketball team faced The Master’s, the Mustangs senior guard Darryl McDowell-White only scored one basket — a game-winning layup with under five-seconds remaining to give his team the win.
The second time around, the Warriors had no answer for McDowell-White, who scored a team-high 16 points for The Master’s as it defeated Westmont for the second time this season following an 80-75 victory Saturday at The MacArthur Center despite a 28-point effort from junior guard Abram Carrasco.
“We’ve done a really nice job winning close games and so we’re used to that but I think The Masters played very, very well and we just didn’t play quite as well as they did tonight,” Westmont coach John Moore said.
“Sometimes, it comes down to a game where the other team just plays a little bit better then you did, but I like the way we played.”
For Westmont (25-3, 14-2), the team is still control of its own destiny, as a win in either of its last two contests will give them the out-right league championship. And, even if the Warriors were to lose their final two games, they would still host the Golden State Athletic Conference Tournament.
As for The Master’s (21-7, 11-5) the team shot a solid 47.6% from the floor and 42.3% from 3-point range in the win. Westmont shot just 38.8% for the game and 40% from deep.
Carrasco, who led all scorers with 28, was the only player to score more than 11 points for the Warriors.
On the flip side, McDowell-White led The Master’s with 16 points, but it was truly a team effort that delivered it a win as six players scored in double figures, two of which came off the bench.
The Warriors were in command for the majority of the first half, even jumping out to an 8-0 lead within the first three minutes.
In those first 90 seconds, however, Westmont’s Justin Bessard picked up two early fouls, both of which frustrated the senior forward to no end, and sent him to the bench for the rest of the first half. Bessard would finish with just 11 points and five rebounds in the loss.
“It is frustrating and we’ve got to help them with that one. I think it’s kind of a combination of unfortunate circumstances really more than anything. I thought the two he got early were ones that were just unfortunate,” Moore said.
The Warriors led by eight again at 16-8 but the Mustangs began to answer back in the form of McDowell-White, who scored 13 points in the first 20 minutes of the contest on 5-for-8 shooting from the floor, including 2-for-3 from deep.
“He did a nice job, he made some big threes at key times. We had a different matchup on him last time and we went to something else because we felt like Jordan Starr would hurt us late in the game but he’s a senior and he played play very confidently tonight,” Moore said.
The Master’s continually cut the lead down to three and even cut it down to one point at two separate times, but could never find a basket to give them a lead.
A three from Anton Mozga tied the game up at 37-37 with just under a minute left, but the Warriors would sink two free throws before the end of the half to take a 39-37 lead.
In the second half, the Mustangs found their lead early and held onto it. A three by Tim Soares with 16:47 remaining gave the home team their first lead of the game at 42-41.
Soares, who scored just two points in the first half, contributed 10 in the second including a pair of threes.
The two teams traded baskets until tied at 46-all. There, the Mustangs used a 7-0 run, capped off by another three from Soares, to take a 53-46 lead with just over 12 minutes left.
They led by as many as seven for a few minutes, continually answering made baskets from Westmont.
Trailing 60-53, the Warriors went on an 8-1 run, which included threes from Carrasco and Bessard, to tie the game at 61-61.
A three by McDowell-White, his only points of the second half, gave the Mustangs a five-point lead with 5:21 remaining. Westmont would catch The Master’s at 73-all for the last time thanks to another three from Carrasco with 2:24 remaining.
The two teams would miss their next few baskets until the Mustangs’ DJ Wilson converted a three with 38 seconds remaining to give his team the lead.
“We did a nice job making the right guy shoot the ball, he is only shooting 26% from deep, but he made the shot and they really just have guys make the right shot at the right time,” Moore said.
On the ensuing possession, Carrasco was fouled on his 3-point attempt, sending him to the line with a chance to tie the game.
He would miss his second attempt, making only 2 of 3, and from there, the Mustangs won the game at the foul line and a late basket.
“I love how hard we played when we went down by seven and we came back and we tied the game but we just couldn’t get over the hump, they just made some key shots, but I like how we played, it was a great college basketball game,” Moore said.