Mason Westlake hit a game-winning 3-pointer just before the buzzer to give the UC Merced Bobcats a 68-67 victory over Westmont at Murchison Gym on Wednesday afternoon.
Westlake, UC Merced’s leading 3-point shooter in both program and conference history scored 33 points.
With Westmont (8-2) leading 67-65 with 1.4 seconds remaining, the Bobcats inbounded the ball in the far corner into the hands of Westlake, who had knocked down six of his first nine attempts from beyond the arc. Fading away from the basket and with a hand in his face, Westlake’s shot still found the bottom of the rim for the game-winner.
“Even if Westlake didn’t make that shot, we would’ve snuck away with a win that we really didn’t deserve,” said Westmont head coach Landon Boucher. “I didn’t think we came out with the level of desire, passion, and heart that it takes for us to be good. We’re a team that needs to be collectively focused on giving a passionate effort and that wasn’t there tonight.
“It resulted in our lowest scoring game of the year, and when we don’t play with intensity of defense, it’s going to affect our offense. That’s what happened today.”
In the second half, UC Merced (4-2) led by as many as eight points, with Westmont hanging around by a couple possessions as the game entered its final minutes. With 3:07 remaining, Cade Roth landed a 3-pointer to trim the deficit down to one. For a moment, the swing of momentum seemed reminiscent of last week’s schedule, when Roth made a handful of game-saving threes to beat both Arizona Christian and Ottawa (Ariz.)
Two minutes later, with the Warriors down one, Jalen Townsell hit another clutch 3-pointer, this one putting Westmont up 67-65 with 1:05 remaining. Then, with only 37 seconds remaining Anthony McIntyre grabbed a rebound off a stop, and the Warriors carried the ball down court with about a five-second difference between shot and game clock.
Rather than foul the Warriors, UC Merced elected to bet on their ability to both get a stop and a make with only a handful of seconds remaining. The bet proved to be the right one, as the shot clock hit zero when Roth threw up a three-pointer that never hit the rim. After the shot clock violation, the Bobcats inbounded the ball twice before being met with a foul by the Warriors, who had a pair of fouls to give.
On the third inbound attempt, the Bobcats successfully found Westlake in the far corner. Then, the day’s leading scorer brought an end to the game with his seventh conversion from beyond the arc.
The Warriors return to action on Wednesday, Nov. 30 at The Master’s.