ROCKLIN — The Westmont men’s basketball team (15-13, 5-13 GSAC) capped off the regular season in style on Saturday, defeating No. 4 William Jessup (25-5, 13-5 GSAC) 78-69. The road-Warriors outscored Jessup 45-29 in the first half, and held on down the stretch for a big win in Rocklin.
“We came out with an intensity that we can be really proud of,” said Westmont head coach Landon Boucher. “Having Cade back on the floor was a huge boost that is invaluable to us.”
Cade Roth, Westmont’s captain and lead playmaker, saw the floor Saturday for the first time since Jan. 20, when he took a hard fall in Murchison Gym. Tonight, the captain collected eight boards, dished out three assists, and scored four points in his 24-minute return.
During the first half, Westmont did not surrender a single three-pointer to Jessup, who missed 12 shots from beyond the arc. Westmont drained five threes during the half, and made 15 of their 34 field goal attempts. The home team made only 11 of 30 shot attempts.
Jared Brown and Nate Meithof both scored in double figures in the first half, with Ajay Singh and Jalen Townsell both close behind.
“We played a really good first half,” noted Boucher. “Our guys were sharing the ball today more than they have all year, and it resulted in easy shots. Sharing the ball is a fun way to play with each other.”
In the second half, Westmont slowed down offensively, but did enough to maintain their lead in the final minutes. Meithof once again scored in double figures, and Cly Griffith Jr. led the club with 12 points in the final period.
In the final minute of action, Jessup got within six, but the Warriors hit key free throws when it counted, and successfully held off the top-10 team for their fifth conference win of the year.
“Even though Myles Corey is out for William Jessup,” began Boucher, “they are still a very tough team who will be a threat in the national tournament.”
Individually for Westmont, Griffith finished with 16 points, while Singh added 13 and Brown added 11. Meithof led Westmont with eight rebounds as he collected four assists, while Tyler Austin added in seven rebounds and four assists off the bench.
“Jared and Nate played really hard on both ends,” said Boucher. “Tyler Austin was really impactful off the bench for us, grabbing seven rebounds in fifteen minutes.”
At the end of the day, the biggest individual story for Westmont was Meithof and his team-high 21 points. With his 21-point outing, Meithof, a true-freshman, clinched the GSAC scoring title. Meithof averaged 18.5 points per game during the regular season.
He is the first Westmont player to win the conference scoring title since Preston Branson won back-to-back titles in 2010-11 and 2011-12.
“Anytime a player earns a scoring title, it’s a big credit to their teammates,” reflected Boucher. “The exciting part is that Nate is growing as a player and a person every day.”
On Wednesday night, Westmont will play in the first round of the GSAC Tournament, down in Fullerton. Game times and opponents will be announced soon.
The tournament will run four straight days, with the conference title game taking place on Saturday night.
“Our goal has been to keep getting better every day since September,” said Boucher. “We will keep trying to do that as we head into the conference tournament.”
Jacob Norling is the sports information assistant at Westmont College.