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Tuesday, December 11 , 2018, 1:55 am | Fair 46º

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College Basketball

Westmont Eliminated from NAIA Men’s Tourney by Top-Ranked Team

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The 2016-17 season came to an end for Westmont Men's Basketball in the second round of the NAIA National Championship. The Warriors fell to top-ranked Louisiana State Alexandria, 81-61, keeping the Generals' perfect season in tact at 33-0.

Westmont played well in the first half, and went into the locker room down by just two points (35-33).  However, the Warriors could not keep pace with the Generals in the second half.

"We had a very good first half," noted Westmont head coach John Moore. "I thought we had them on the ropes. They came back in the second half and shot at a higher percentage."

Offensively, Westmont shot 39.3 percent (11 of 38) from the floor in the opening frame, but mustered just 32.0 percent (8 of 25) in the second half. Cory Blau was three of four before the intermission, including two of three from three-point range while Jerry Karczewski went two of five from beyond the arc. Blau and Karczewski led the Warriors with eight points apiece headed into the locker room.

Alexandria made 46.9 percent of their shots in the first half and increased that percentage to 64.3 after halftime.

"In the first part of the second half - when they scored six straight points - that took the wind out of our sails a little bit, acknowledged Moore. "Also, we missed our shots during that sequence. I thought we were a little too reliant on outside shots. In the first half, we were more balance between outside and inside shots. In the second half, we just didn't have as many back-cuts as we usually do."

A three-pointer by Sean Harman with 16:21 left in the second half reduced the deficit to three (45-42). The Generals scored the next nine points to establish the first double-digit lead of the night (54-42). Westmont would get no closer than seven points the rest of the way.

Blau ended the game with 16 points while Karczewski tallied 11. Hayden Anderson put up another 10 while pulling down three rebounds.

Following the game, Moore reflected on the careers of his six seniors who played their final game in Warrior jerseys.

"This is one of my favorite teams of all time," said Moore. "That is almost always a direct correlation to the quality of seniors that you have.

"Brit Williams had a very fine national tournament. It was like he was back at home in Municipal Auditorium, where two years ago he was named the Charles Stevenson Award winner. He was a bundle of energy out there today.

"I don't think I can say enough good things about Cory Blau as a competitor. He is one of the all-time great competitors I have had in almost 30 years of coaching. He wasn't completely healthy this year, but he put his best foot forward and did what he was capable of doing."

Blau ended his career with 1,603 points, which ranks third on Westmont's career scoring list. John Crew (1950-54) leads the list with 1,679 points; Mark Miller (1973-77) is second with 1,671 points and Chris Clark (2000-2003) is now fourth with 1,599 points.

"Hayden Anderson is a rags-to-riches story after having to red shirt his freshman year," said Moore. "He has been a fantastic example of someone getting better and better and better. He is one of the finest defenders I have ever had.

"Sam Bentz epitomizes the kind of captains we have a Westmont. He is more of a quiet leader, but he has become willing to go into other people's hearts. He has definitely climbed into my heart. He has made big play after big play.

"Stefan Inouye is our character guy and our Golden Eagle Award winner. They call him the machine because he goes into the weight room and takes care of business and then some. He goes into the classroom and takes care of business and then some. He helps people out in a very quiet, humble way. He is a real special young man.

"Sean McDonnell ran the champions of character program we did at the elementary school earlier this week. His leadership skills have come to the forefront. He is a student of the game, but he is also a very good student as well. Sean has done so much for us on the basketball court. It's nice to have a low-post presence like Sean. He gets to the free throw line, he rebounds the ball and he shoots a very high percentage."

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