Sea Lions Squeak out Narrow Victory over Warriors

Submitted by: Ron Smith - January 30th, 2011


Westmont men’s basketball came up one point short in San Diego on Saturday night as the Warriors (15-6, 7-5 GSAC) lost a Golden State Athletic Conference game to Point Loma Nazarene (11-10, 7-5) by a score of 78-77. The contest was especially important because it gave the Sea Lions – with whom the Warriors are currently tied for fourth place in the conference standings – the tiebreaker between the two teams.

Back-to-back threes by Preston Branson and Matt Hornbuckle, followed by two-point baskets by Niko Brooks and Branson again, gave Westmont an early 10-0 lead, the only double-digit lead enjoyed by either team the rest of the night.

The Sea Lions, however, scored 19 of the next 23 points to take a 19-14 lead with 11:41 to play in the first half. With 4:42 remaining before intermission, the Sea Lions’ Hayden Lescault hit a long range bomb to give Point Loma its largest lead of the game 34-25. At halftime, the Sea Lions enjoyed a 38-32 advantage.

But the Warriors fought back, and with 8:13 to go in regulation, Blake Bender scored on a layup to tie the game at 57-all. Forty-two seconds later, he scored again and Westmont had its first lead (59-57) in more than 25 minutes of play. A close battle followed with neither team gaining more than a five-point advantage.

With 1:20 remaining, Bender nailed two free throws to tie the game at 73. On the Sea Lions’ next possession, however, Marek Klassen scored from beyond the arc to put Point Loma up 76-73 with 0:59 to play. Branson was fouled with 44 seconds left and drained both free throws to pull the Warriors to within one.

The Sea Lions could not retain possession of the ball and turned it over to Westmont with 26 seconds left. After a Westmont time out, Bender scored on a layup give Westmont a 77-76 lead with 12 seconds still residing on the clock.

Point Loma then called a time out which was followed by a game winning layup by Greg Murray.

The Warriors were led in scoring by Branson who tallied 21 points and six assists. Both Hornbuckle and Brooks scored 12 points while Bender added 11 more. Klassen led the scoring for Point Loma with 16.

Westmont will return to action on Thursday, February 3 when they host California Baptist at Murchison Gymnasium in a 7:30 p.m. game.

[box score]