SURPRISE, Ariz. — After winning nine consecutive games to open the season, Westmont (9-1, 2-1 GSAC) was unable to make up for their 21 turnovers as OUAZ (7-3, 2-2) defeated the Warriors 75-70 on Saturday.
Cade Roth was one of only two Warriors to score in double-figures, as he led the way with 24 points. Roth also led the club with eight rebounds and four assists. Jared Brown was the only other man in double-figures with 11 points.
“There’s a lot of ways you can be prepared for games,” said Westmont head coach Landon Boucher, “but it’s really difficult to prepare to have intensity. We were coming off a big win against ACU and they were coming off a tough loss against Master’s, and energy-wise the tables were flipped.
“We came out well and today it was hard to sustain that, but hats off to Ottawa. They played really well.”
Westmont initially jumped out to an 11-4 advantage and looked poised to build upon the early lead, but in the first 12 minutes of play, the script was flipped for the Warriors. In the first 12 minutes of play, Westmont committed nine turnovers and saw their lead disappear, eventually leading to a 23-16 deficit.
In the first half, Westmont committed 15 turnovers compared to just five for OUAZ, and the Spirit scored 17 points off turnovers. Westmont also surrendered nine offensive rebounds in the first half that led to nine second chance points for OUAZ.
Although the Warriors held OUAZ to a 36.6% clip from the field (15-41), Westmont’s inability to hold onto the basketball saw the club head into halftime trailing 34-27.
In the second half, Roth did all he could to get the Warriors back in the ballgame, going on a eight-point run by himself out of a timeout with 10:29 to play. Roth’s effort cut the deficit to 52-47, and from there the clubs traded blows until Westmont got their best look at the game with under four minutes to play.
With 3:33 left on the clock, Ajay Singh converted a layup and was fouled, which led to Singh converting the ensuing free throw. Singh’s three-point play cut the deficit to 62-60, the closest the margin had been since early on in the first half.
However, after a layup on the other end for the Spirit, Nate Meithof committed his fourth turnover of the game, the club’s 21st, and Westmont’s momentum was halted for the day. Ultimately, a 7-0 run by OUAZ put the club up 69-60, and led to the Spirit handing the Warriors their first loss of the season.
Westmont ultimately gave up 26 points off turnovers, and surrendered 19 offensive rebounds that led to 14 second-chance points.
“After the game, we talked about how important it is for teams that roll early in the season to bond over your first loss,” Boucher said. “Guys are bummed, but we’re learning from it. We have some time to hang out at the airport and talk about the day as we get ready for next week.”
Westmont’s road trip continues Thursday when it heads down to Costa Mesa to take on the Vanguard Lions at 7:30 p.m. After that, Westmont returns home to host Hope International next Saturday night.
“It’s another huge week next week,” said Boucher. “More than anything right now, we’re digesting this loss as a staff and a team. Come Monday though, we’ll move forward. We know that when we’re playing our best basketball, we’re rebounding and playing with intensity.”
Jacob Norling is the sports information assistant at Westmont College.