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Tuesday, January 22 , 2019, 9:22 am | Fair 50º

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College Basketball

Westmont Squeaks by Pomona Pitzer With 70-69 Win

(POMONA, Calif.) Westmont Men’s Basketball (9-2) was able to squeak out a victory tonight against Pomona-Pitzer by a score of 70-69. Olisa Nwachie forced a jump ball and Kyle Scalmanini hit the game winning free throw for the Warriors.

Coming off a tough defeat last night against Antelope Valley, Westmont head coach John Moore said, “What a difference 24 hours can make. I just told them what they did well was getting stops late in the game. Olisa came up with a jump ball and we had the possession arrow going our way. If we don’t get that, we would have had to foul and they win the game at the free throw line.”

Early in the first half, the Sagehens were ahead by a score of 9-8. The Warriors went on a 12-0 run over the next two and a half minutes to take the lead at 20-9. Nwachie began the run with a layup. Sean Harman followed with a layup of his own. Jerry Karczewski hit back-to-back three’s, and Nwachie connected on another layup to finish the run.

Westmont was ahead by 15 with 3:42 remaining in the first half when Pomona-Pitzer went on a run of their own. The Sagehens would go on a 16-6 run through the rest of the half, brining themselves within five points of the Warriors. The score at halftime was 45-40 in favor of Westmont.

The two senior captains in Sean Harman and Karczewski continued to lead the Warriors tonight. “They were fantastic – especially in the first half. Jerry made all four of his three’s in the first half – he was on fire. Sean (26 points) almost had his career high,” said Moore. “I really liked the way they played. I liked their aggressiveness and the way they put last night’s loss behind them. Neither one of them would have said they played well last night. Tonight they were able to move beyond that and play excellent basketball.

Harman’s 26 points were two shy of his career high – he scored 28 against William Jessup last season. Karczewski was 4-8 from behind the three-point line and finished with 23 points.

Nwachie added a double-double to his season’s resume – scoring 10 points and pulling down 10 rebounds. Moore added, “Two nights in a row we had our post presence with double-doubles – Zac last night with 19 points and 10 rebounds and Olisa tonight. Anytime you can have your post guys dominate on the boards in that way, you’re going to have a good chance in winning that game.”

Neither team had a lead larger than four points through the final seven minutes of the game. Westmont was down by two with 1:34 remaining. Harman scored on a layup after Nwachie forced the jump ball to tie the game 69-69 with 35 seconds remaining. Scalmanini came up with a huge steal and hit one of his two free throws after being fouled with 10 seconds remaining.

Moore described, “Kyle Scalmanini played with spirit. He gets a steal and the only point he scores in the whole game is a free throw to win the game. Then at the end, we had to get a defensive stop. Sean Harman smartly fouled because we had a foul to give.

“Then Pomona-Pitzer had the ball out of bounds with 4.6 seconds left – we took half the clock away from them. We got them to miss a shot and Olisa Nwachie tipped it up in the air. Their guy may have had a crazy tip-in opportunity, but I didn’t think it had any chance. It was Olisa’s tip of the ball that made a difference,” finished Moore.

With the win tonight, Moore is one win away from his 500th at the helm of Westmont’s basketball program. He will have a chance for his 500th next Saturday as Westmont hosts Bethesda at 7:30 p.m.

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