The Westmont men’s basketball team faced only its third halftime deficit of the season, but a 14-2 run to start the second half sparked the 11th-ranked Warriors on their way to an 85-63 victory over Calgary (Canada) on Monday night in the 44th Annual Tom Byron Classic at Murchison Gym.
Westmont extended its unbeaten start to the season to 13-0.
Westmont forced 13 turnovers in the second half and 17 for the game, leading to a 28-6 advantage in points off turnovers.
“I’m just really proud of how way we played defense,” said Westmont head coach John Moore. “Our defense in the second half was spectacular with the turnover margin. Our shooting percentage in the second half boomed because we had so many easy shots because of the turnovers we created.”
No basket off a Calgary turnover was bigger than Cade Roth’s 3-point play that was part of the Warriors’ hot start to the second half.
Immediately after Roth sank a free throw to complete the first of his back-to-back 3-point plays, Hunter Sipe intercepted the ensuing inbounds pass and dished to Roth, who euro-stepped his defender and got his and-one layup to fall.
“How about Hunter Sipe? Everybody will talk about his offense, but his defense stood out to me with taking charges, the steal on the out-of-bounds play that led to a Cade Roth traditional 3-point play,” said Moore. “He made easy baskets for other people.”
Sipe finished off Westmont’s 14-2 run by nailing a corner triple to give his team its first double-digit lead of the game, 49-37.
That streak to start the second half was just what the Warriors needed after they trailed by two (35-33) at halftime, and had their second lowest scoring output in a half this season.
“We went into halftime really disappointed,” said Moore. “We talked at halftime about having a defensive presence to start the second half and I thought our defensive tenacity in the second half is what led to those much easier shots.”
Westmont only shot 5 for 18 (27.8%) from 3-point range in the first half, but shot a much more efficient seven for 12 (58.3%) in the second.
“I thought that there were a couple threes that were maybe a little hurried in the first half,” said Moore. “We talked about that at halftime, ‘Let’s not have any walk-up threes, let’s instead have kick out threes.’ Guys believed in that and I don’t think we had any walk-up threes in the second half.”
The Warriors were led after halftime by Gyse Hulsebosch, who was a perfect 4 for 4 from behind the arc in the second half.
“He’s the microwave. Gyse Hulsebosch is our Lou Williams of the Clippers,” said Moore. “He shoots from deep, so now the defense gets stretched to a place that they’re not comfortable and accustomed to being.
“Guys like Cade Roth seem to find Gyse over and over again. On the last shot Gyse made, I don’t think there was any space, any room. He just caught it and it was like a video game shot. That takes a lot of practice and he’s put a lot of time in the gym to make sure that shot is ready.”
Hulsebosch’s 3-point shooting helped extend the Warriors’ advantage to as many as 28 points, as Westmont outscored Calgary 52-28 in the second half.
“We’ve had big leads that we have given up,” said Moore. “I’m most pleased with that we created a big lead and we continued to build on the lead. It got all the way up to 28 and we won by 22. I thought it was significant we didn’t let them get back into that single digit area.”
Hulsebosch’s 17 points led the Warriors, followed by 16 from Abram Carrasco, 13 from Sipe and 11 from Roth.
The Warriors have a quick turnaround before playing against Park (Ariz.) on Tuesday at 1:00 p.m. The Buccaneers lost today to Westmont’s GSAC rival The Master’s, 85-59, in the first game of the tournament.