SALEM, Ore. — Westmont Men’s Basketball (5-1) saw their season-opening five-game winning streak come to an end on Friday night after falling 85-80 against the Corban (Ore.) Warriors (2-0).
Westmont possessed an eight-point lead after the first half of play, but Corban’s clutch shooting along with Westmont’s costly turnovers led to the California-based Warriors’ first loss of the season.
“It was a bummer,” assured Westmont head coach Landon Boucher. “There’s no hiding the fact that we’re bummed, but I really think that we needed this. Maybe we didn’t need the result, but I do think that we needed a tight game like that on the road.
“I think there’s as many good things you could focus on as there are things we need to work on, and overall it’s good to be aware of both.”
In the first half, Westmont got out to a slow start offensively, scoring only 12 points in the game’s first nine minutes. Boucher called a timeout with 11:11 left in the half, with Corban leading 18-12, and out of the timeout, the lid came off the basket.
Anthony McIntyre was the key player who had the hot hand after the timeout, draining a trio of three-pointers as he entered intermission with a game-high 16 points. Drew Ramirez knocked down a pair of threes as well, including the initial shot for Westmont out of the timeout, which kick started their run.
As Corban began to focus on their perimeter defense when Westmont’s deep shooting became more prominent, forward Amir Davis found his way in the paint and collected 10 first-half points on four of six shooting.
After scoring only 12 points in the first nine minutes of the game, Westmont scored 35 in the next ten-plus, allowing the men to take a 47-39 lead into the locker room.
“Anthony McIntyre fought like a champ tonight,” noted Boucher. “He just ended up fouling out in the end. As a team, we just need to work on staying out of foul trouble early. Amir, Anthony, and Cade Roth all suffered from foul trouble all night and it affected the game as the night went on.
“As we got late into the second half, those guys couldn’t play the same in fear of fouling out.”
Westmont kept Corban at a safe distance for the first chunk of the second half, going up a game-high nine points when Tone Patton Sr. drained a 3-pointer to make it 65-56 at the 12:30 mark. From that point on, however, as Westmont got into foul trouble, Corban outscored Westmont 29-15.
At first, the Oregon-based Warriors chipped away, getting back within a possession five minutes after Patton’s shot from long range. The first big blow came with 7:34 left to play, when a Corban Warrior was fouled in the process of making the game-tying three-point shot. Corban’s shooter converted the ensuing free throw to cap off the four-point play, putting his club up momentarily at 71-70.
The four-point play turned out to be one of seven lead changes over the next six minutes of action, as with 1:32 left to play, Ramirez scored what turned out to be Westmont’s final points of the night. A pair of free throws from the guard put Westmont up 80-79, but on the next possession, a mid-range jumper put Corban up 81-80 with 1:15 to play.
Westmont had three chances in the final minute of action, first with an attempted layup by Roth that was blocked with 45 seconds to play. Twenty-five seconds later, Roth came away with a steal on the defensive end that sent the road-Warriors into a fast break, but Jalen Townsell was unable to hold onto a pass under the basket, leading to Westmont’s 21st turnover on the night.
After Corban made another pair of free throws to stretch the lead to 83-80, Westmont had the ball with 11 seconds to play and a chance to tie it. Unfortunately for Westmont, Zeke Viuhkola was called for an off-the-ball foul, which kept Westmont from having the chance to force overtime. Ttwo free throws and ten seconds later, Westmont officially dropped their first game of the new campaign.
“I’m hopeful that this can help us change some bad habits,” offered Boucher. “Overall, our execution wasn’t there tonight. We turned the ball over 22 times. There wasn’t sharp execution once we got fatigued. We had sharp execution early in the game, but as we got tired, we allowed the fatigue to set in.
“I’m hoping we can clean that up and execute moving forward once we get tired, because we haven’t really been in that opportunity until tonight. I’m hopeful we can get sharp, and stay sharp, with GSAC games right around the corner.”
Westmont returns to the court tomorrow for their final pre-GSAC tune-up, this time taking on Pacific (Ore.) in Forest Grove at 3:00 p.m. Following tomorrow’s game, Westmont will return home in preparation of their GSAC opener on Thursday, November 18, against #1 Arizona Christian.