Senior point guard Josh Ware produced a career-high 21 points but Westmont couldn’t pull off an upset of No. 6 Concordia in Irvine on Thursday night. The Warriors lost, 91-81, despite shooting 51.8 percent from the floor and out-rebounding the Eagles, 38-31.
Westmont’s challenge was in holding on to the ball. The Warriors (13-13 overall, 7-11 in the Golden State Athletic Conference) committed 26 turnovers, and Concordia made the most of it by recording 31 points off them. By comparison, the Eagles (14-4, 15-4) committed 14 turnovers that Westmont turned into 13 points.
Down 11-10 in the first half, sophomore guard Andrew Schmalbach (10 points, four assists) and sophomore forward Bobby Fenske (six points, five rebounds) scored back-to-back three-pointers to start an 8-0 run. The resulting 18-11 score proved to be the Warriors’ biggest lead of the night.
Concordia scored the next six points and eventually caught the Warriors on a Ryan Read (18 points) layup that produced a 22-22 tie with 9:26 remaining in the half. Concordia continued to put the ball in the hoop and Westmont found itself down, 46-34, with just 1:51 before the intermission. But the Warriors rallied to score seven points before the horn sounded, resulting in a 46-41 halftime score.
Through much of the second half, the Warriors kept the margin to single digits, but the Eagles kept just out of reach, refusing to allow Westmont to get any closer than four points. Rafael Da Silva led Concordia with 21 points and Joe Roberson added another 16.
Dan Rasp notched 17 points for the Warriors and pulled down six rebounds. Nasa Sete added 12 points, eight rebounds and three assists.
The loss means the Warriors must win their last two games to gain a spot in the upcoming GSAC Tournament. They also must get some help because either The Master’s (15-13, 9-9) or Biola (16-12, 8-10) must lose both of their remaining games if Westmont is going to play in the
Westmont will host Hope International (1-24, 1-17) on Saturday and The Master’s on Monday. Before making the trip to Montecito, The Master’s will play at San Diego Christian (2-16, 5-21) on Saturday. Biola hosts No. 25 Vanguard (18-9, 11-7) on Saturday and No. 15 Azusa Pacific (20-8, 13-5) on Monday.
Westmont has played in every GSAC Tournament since its inception in 1994 and has qualified for post-season play for the past 32 seasons.
Ron Smith is Westmont College‘s sports information director.