On a near record-setting Tuesday night, Westmont (13-9, 3-9 GSAC) defeated West Coast Baptist 115-64 to get back in the win column. The Warriors tied a record for their fourth-highest scoring total since the turn of the century, and tied the program record for most steals in a single game.
“It’s been a trying couple weeks for our team,” said Westmont head coach Landon Boucher. “To have a game where we have 20 assists and share the ball is really refreshing. It was well-timed and much-needed and we have some big games this week so it was a nice start.”
The biggest morale boost of the evening came from the end of the Westmont bench. Four players who came into the night without having scored in a Westmont uniform, all put points on the board in a winning effort.
“Nick, Devin, Troy, and Luke did a really good job of being ready,” noted Boucher. “When they came in, they not only held, but extended the lead.”
The Warriors put their foot on the gas early, opening up the game on an 11-0 run sparked by a three from Tyler Austin and a pair of jumpers from Ajay Singh. Then, after a Jared Brown three, a pair of layups from Kyler Warren, and a basket from Jalen Townsell, Westmont jumped out to a 22-2 advantage less than five minutes into the contest.
With 12:49 left to play in the first, Boucher began rotating in members of the Westmont bench such as Luke Tank, who was still looking for his first basket of the year. Tank missed his first three-point attempt, but with 9:21 left in the period, Tank picked the pocket of West Coast’s LJ DeSoto in the backcourt.
Two seconds later, Tank converted a layup for his first collegiate basket. On the ensuing possession, Tank swiped the ball again, this time out of the hands of Job Sichting. The junior dribbled his way down the court and doubled his scoring total to make it a 45-17 game.
The next pair of Warriors to have their moment were Devin Hernandez and Nick Butler. Hernandez, a local product out of Laguna Blanca High School, scored his first collegiate bucket when he drained a 3-pointer off of an assist from Butler.
Butler, a former intramural basketball star on Westmont’s campus, walked onto the team as a senior. The Santa Barbara native has long been a beloved member of the Westmont community, and on Tuesday, he drew the largest ovation from the crowd of students who were not only aware of the moment, but glad to share in it with him.
For Butler, the assist to Hernandez was the first of his collegiate career.
“I just really hope this game allows us to not only get better, but bond as a team,” said Butler. “We have a couple big games this weekend so hopefully this gets us on track a bit.
“My first assist was to Devin Hernandez who hit the first three of his college career. As a senior, that means a lot to me to be able to leave a legacy and dish out my first assist to a freshman. The energy on that floor tonight was great.”
Butler took Westmont’s final shot of the first half, and converted a layup for his first collegiate basket. Westmont led 62-30 going into intermission.
Still in need of their first points of the season was Troy Kihm, a transfer from Santiago Canyon College. Late in the second half, after coming up empty in his first-four attempts, Kihm got his own rebound on a missed layup, and put it back up for his bucket of the season.
After Hernandez, who had 12 points off the bench, hit a jumper on the next possession, Kihm drilled a 3-pointer to make it 111-53 with 2:51 remaining.
Three minutes later, the club had a 115-64 win, and a much needed reason to collectively grin.
Townsell led the Warriors with 21 points as he shot eight of 10 from the field. Brown, who collected five of the club’s 18 steals, scored 13 points to go along with three assists. Warren recorded a double-double for the club as he posted new season-highs in both points and rebounds with 13 in each category.
“Amidst everything else, Jared Brown really stood out tonight,” reflected Boucher. “He’s really improving defensively and he did another great job tonight. This is the fourth game in a row where he was on their point guard and he’s done a really job.
“Going into San Diego, they have a really good guard, and then Hope has Garcia. It was a night where he got better defensively and we’re going to need him to keep at it come Thursday and Saturday.”
The club returns to GSAC play on Thursday night at 7:30 when they travel south to face San Diego Christian.