Abram Carrasco scored 21 of his game-high 27 points in the second half to help NAIA No. 11 Westmont men’s basketball (16-1 overall, 5-0 GSAC) overcome a nine-point halftime deficit in a 78-75 road victory over Menlo (7-6, 1-3).
The win, combined with a loss by #2 The Master’s (14-2, 4-1) against William Jessup (11-5, 3-1), means Westmont is in sole possession of first place in the GSAC.
“Bram Carrasco willed this win for us,” Westmont head coach John Moore said. “For a guard to get 10 rebounds and 27 points and hit big shot after big shot, he was really special.”
Carrasco, who was named GSAC Player of the Week on Monday, needed to be special for the Warriors, who were held to their lowest scoring first half against NAIA opposition this season.
Westmont missed its first five 3-point attempts of the game and finished the opening period just three for 14 (21.4%) from behind the arc. That, combined with a monster first half from Menlo’s John Paine, resulted in a nine-point halftime deficit for the Warriors.
With Westmont ahead 24-19, Paine led Menlo on a 13-0 run to give the Oaks a 32-24 lead. A 6-0 run by the Warriors brought the visitors to within two, 30-32, but Menlo answered back with an 8-0 run of its own to go ahead by double digits.
A Tristan Lloyd layup and two Hunter Sipe free throws reduced Westmont’s deficit to six, but Paine rattled in a triple to beat the halftime buzzer and send the Oaks into the locker room up by nine, 43-34.
Paine’s 16 points in the first half led all scorers, as he became the Oaks’ all-time leading scorer in program history.
Carrasco bettered Paine’s first-half output in the second, putting the Warriors on his back to get his team back in the game. The junior transfer scored 13 points in a 15-5 Westmont run to open the second half that helped the Warriors regain the lead.
After struggling shooting the ball for much of the first half, the Warriors found their groove offensively in the second period, shooting eight for 12 (66.7%) from deep. Four of those triples came from Carrasco.
Westmont not only shot the ball better after halftime, but the Warriors also clamped down defensively, limiting Paine to just six of Menlo’s 32 points for the half.
“In the second half we held them to 34% shooting from the field,” Moore said. “Our defense in the second half was superb.”
Carrasco recorded his first double-double in a Westmont uniform with 27 points and 10 rebounds, his most boards as a Warrior. He also led the team with five assists.
Sipe was the next highest scorer with 13 points, while Lloyd tied a career high with 12.
“Tristan Lloyd had the game of his career,” Moore said. “He was two for three from 3-point range and five for seven overall. He continues to have some amazing blocked shots. He was really good.”
Roth recorded a near double-double himself, tallying nine points and nine rebounds.
Westmont concludes its northern California trip on Saturday at 2:00 p.m. against William Jessup, who defeated #2 The Master’s 82-80.