EL CAJON — The Westmont men’s basketball team let a 22-point first-half lead slip away, but found its offensive groove late on to avoid a road upset against San Diego Christian, claiming a 91-81 GSAC victory.
The NAIA fourth-ranked Warriors improved to 19-2 overall and 8-1 in the GSAC. San Diego Christian fell to 5-11, 1-8.
“Overall, it’s always hard to go on the road and play your best basketball,” Westmont head coach John Moore said. “We don’t feel like we played our best basketball, but we found a way to play well at the beginning of the game and at the end of the game. We closed out the game much better than we closed out the first half.”
Westmont went on a 28-4 run to take a 34-12 advantage in the first half. But the Hawks outscored the Warriors 13-4 the rest of the first period, as Westmont did not make a field goal for the final 5:28 before halftime.
“I thought we really started the game well defensively, holding them in the first half to 25.8% shooting,” Moore said. “I thought that was an important part of our approach to the game.”
The Warriors’ 13-point halftime lead was quickly erased in the second half. The Hawks reduced Westmont’s lead to a single point, 45-44, with 14:26 on the clock. The Warriors then extended their lead to seven at 53-46 before the Hawks tied the game up at 58 apiece at the 8:36 mark.
After not shooting particularly well in the first half, Westmont shot 62.5% from the field after halftime, including 60.0% from 3-point range, outpacing San Diego Christian’s 59.4% shooting (30.0% 3-point) in the second half.
Abram Carrasco, who led all players with eight assists, scored 18 of his game-high 25 points in the second half. Jared Brown (16 points) led three other Warriors who also scored in double figures, including Hunter Sipe (13 points) and Gyse Hulsebosch (10 points). Cade Roth led the Warriors with nine rebounds, seven of which came in the first half.
“We took Jared Brown out at a certain point in the second half because it looked like he was a little fatigued,” Moore said. “When he reset, he was so much better and was really good when he got back in the game.
“Bram (Carrasco) is always in that position of leading us in scoring. Hunter Sipe is Hunter Sipe. He’s such an even-keeled, consistent player who continues to lead us in so many different categories. Cade’s nine rebounds were quite important for us and Gyse is an automatic double digit guy off the bench it feels like.”
After the first round of GSAC play, Westmont holds a one-game lead over #7 The Master’s (17-3, 7-2) in the conference standings. William Jessup (14-7, 6-3) dropped into a third place tie with #23 Arizona Christian (16-5, 6-3), two games behind the first-place Warriors, after losing to the Firestorm.
Westmont now returns home for five straight games, beginning with Thursday night’s matchup with Arizona Christian at 7:30 p.m.