In their closest game of the season, Westmont Men’s Basketball (5-0) held on late to beat the Keelhaulers of Cal Maritime by a score of 79-73. After outscoring the Keelhaulers 36-29 in the first half, the Warriors were able to hold off Cal Maritime for their fifth consecutive win to open the season.
“I felt good about this one,” said Westmont head coach Landon Boucher. “For such a new team, not having been in that situation yet together, I thought we handled it well. In the first half and in the second half, we saw a lot of good things.
“We got good shots down the stretch to give us a significant lead, and then for us to get through a late scenario was really good. They made a couple crazy shots at the end to make it interesting, but our guys didn’t give up and didn’t give in. We found a way.”
Amir Davis led all scorers with 26 points, as he poured in 11 of 13 shots from the field. Zeke Viuhkola, once again off the bench, was Westmont’s next highest scorer with 14 points, while Kyler Warren also contributed off the bench with 10 of his own points.
Davis, Viuhkola, and Anthony McIntyre all collected a team-high seven rebounds, as Cade Roth led Westmont with three blocks. It was a rare cold day for the Warriors from beyond the arc, as Westmont made just four of 17 from beyond the arc.
“Cal Maritime saw that our 3-point shooting has been stellar, and they made an adjustment to not help as much, as smart teams do,” explained Boucher. “Amir is a tough guy to guard one-on-one, when he’s in the right mindset.
“Kyler Warren was really good off the bench in both halves. He made some really significant plays, and in only seven minutes of play he scored 10 points and had three rebounds. We’ve been challenging Anthony, time and time again, to be rebounding. Today, he didn’t have the best offensive game, but he still had seven rebounds. He helped us win.
In the first half, the Keelhaulers kept within reach of Westmont for much of the half, but in the final 2:30 of action, Westmont scored six points that allowed them take a seven-point advantage into the locker room.
With 7:08 to play in the second half, a pair of free throws by Cly Griffith put Westmont up a game-high 15 points at 64-49, as the Warriors looked to be putting the game out of reach. Later on, with only 3:07 remaining, a layup by Jalen Townsell put Westmont back up 70-56.
Still, the Keelhaulers made things interesting with a 7-0 run to pull back within seven at the 1:10 mark. With four seconds on the clock, a 3-pointer from Cal Maritime brought them back within four, but fortunately for the Warriors, their free throw shooting up to that point allowed them to keep the game out of reach as time expired.
In the final 30 seconds of action, Griffith, Davis, Roth, and Drew Ramirez were a perfect eight of eight from the line, allowing Westmont to escape with the 79-73 victory.
“Our free throw shooting down the stretch was big time,” said Boucher. “Cly had a really nice second half for us, making some crucial free throws when we needed him to. Collectively, the team showed good composure hitting those shots late.”
After taking their first three home games of the season, Westmont has now finished the first half of their four-game road trip with another pair of victorious results.
“We got some good time together away from the floor on this trip,” noted Boucher. “We had a nice away game at Pacific Union, where it gave us a different look in terms of destination. Then, coming into today’s game against a team that really needed a win, it was great to pull it out. Winning today’s game was a big one.”
Westmont’s road trip continues next week in Oregon when the club plays Corban (Ore.) on Friday, November 11, and Pacific (Ore.) on Saturday, November 12. Links to live coverage will be available on the Westmont Athletics website.