Westmont Men’s Basketball (12-9, 5-7 GSAC) suffered another tough-to-swallow loss on Saturday night in Santa Barbara, this time against rival The Master’s (15-6, 8-4).
The Warriors led by nine early in the first half, but at the 4:37 mark in the period The Master’s reclaimed the advantage.
From that point on, the Warriors never again tied the contest in an eventual 81-65 loss.
Westmont’s biggest issue was TMU’s Kaleb Lowery, who scored a game-high 31 points on 11 of 13 shooting. Lowery converted all five of his free throw attempts, collected eight rebounds, and never once left the floor in a game the Mustangs controlled most of the way.
As a team, Westmont was out-rebounded 43-25.
“Master’s got what they wanted going into the game. They wanted to find Lowery, and they found him for all the shots that he wanted and he had a great game. If Lowery is shooting 11 of 13, it is very hard to beat them,” said coach Landon Boucher.
A packed Murchison Gym was treated to an appetizing opening on Saturday when Westmont jumped out to a 17-8 advantage. Later, at the 10:37 mark, Zeke Viuhkola converted a shot from the free throw line that put Westmont up 24-16. After the freshman’s make, however, the Warriors were held scoreless for the next four minutes, allowing The Master’s a 10-0 run to reclaim the lead.
A layup by Jordan Caruso put TMU up two at the 4:37 mark, which preceded The Master’s leading by as many as seven in the final minute of the opening period.
After a first-half buzzer beater from Cade Roth pulled Westmont within four, The Master’s opened up the second half on an 8-0 run, taking a double-digit lead (47-35) with 16:30 remaining. Eight minutes later the Mustangs remained in control, stretching the advantage to 14 when Lowery drilled a 3-pointer at the 8:38 mark.
For a brief moment following Lowery’s three, the Warriors had life, making back-to-back 3-pointers to pull within eight. A minute later a layup by Anthony McIntyre pulled Westmont within six and nearly blew the roof off of the place.
Unfortunately for the Westmont faithful, the roof stayed safely latched onto Murchison Gymnasium after a pair of missed layups and a missed free throw brought an end to Westmont’s run. At the 4:25 mark in the final half, a dagger 3-pointer from Victor Ohia Obioha put The Master’s up 11, and extinguished the home team’s final hope.
The Master’s led by as many as 18 in the final minutes, and ultimately finished off the Warriors by a score of 81-65.
The postseason ramifications from Saturday’s contests finds the Warriors in a seventh-place tie with Vanguard (5-7), with both teams a game-and-a-half back of Menlo (7-6) for the final spot in the GSAC Tournament. Both teams in the mix with Westmont defeated the Warriors in the first round of GSAC play.
“The league is so tight that giving up is not an option,” reflected Boucher. “This one is going to sting, and it should sting. Regardless, we’ll get back on the practice floor Monday and get back to work. There’s still a lot of season left, and we have to get better. We have to turn the page.”