Lions Prevail Despite Warrior Comeback

Submitted by: Ron Smith - January 27th, 2016


Olisa Nwachie

Olisa Nwachie

Westmont Men’s Basketball (15-5, 4-3 GSAC) fought its way back from a 17-point second half deficit, but the 15th ranked Warriors couldn’t hold on in Costa Mesa and suffered a 73-69 Golden State Athletic Conference loss to the Lions of Vanguard (13-6, 2-5).

The Warriors found shooting in The Pit a challenge in the first half, making just 38.5 percent of their field goal attempts. Vanguard took advantage by shooting 46.9 percent, including 51.1 percent from three-point range, to claim an 11-point halftime lead (38-27).

Cory Blau led the Warriors with 23 points, five rebounds and four assists.

“Cory played great, especially in the second half when he put us on his back and carried us,” said Westmont head coach Johns Moore. “I was so proud of our guys for battling hard in the second half. I thought we were going to win the game when we took the lead. I thought we scrapped and played the game with a lot of Warrior pride.”

Less than two minutes into the second half, Malachi Hoosein (nine points, five assists) struck from beyond the arc to give Vanguard a 17-point advantage (46-29), the Lions’ largest margin of the night. Five minutes into the second half, Vanguard still had a 17-point lead (51-34), when the Warriors began to rally.

A three-pointer by Blau sparked a 16-0 Warrior run to get Westmont back into the game. The next four points came on free throws – one each by Sean Harman (nine points, five rebounds) and Blau and two by Jerry Karczewski (12 points). Blau then connected on a layup for an “and-one” play. Four more free throws – two by Sam Bentz (three assists) and two by Olisa Nwachie (four points, three rebounds) – pulled the Warriors to within one before Harman dropped in a jumper in the paint to make the score 51-50.

After a free throw by Vanguard’s Zach Allmon (19 points, 14 rebounds) made the score 52-50 in favor of the Lions, Karczewski nailed a three-pointer to give Westmont its first lead of the night (53-52) with 9:25 to play in the final frame.

Vanguard responded by scoring the next seven points to produce a 59-53 advantage. However, the Warriors rallied again pulling to within three (62-59) on a layup by Blau.

On the Lions’ next possession, Jaamon Echols (10 points, five assists) missed a three-pointer and a scramble for the rebound ensued with the ball ending up near midcourt. Hayden Anderson (three points, five rebounds), who was hustling after the ball, experienced an injury on the play and did not return to the game. His prognosis is unknown.

As a result of the scramble, Harman was awarded two free throws, which he made to pull the Warriors back to within one (62-61). With just over four minutes to play, Harman scored on a fast-break layup, giving Westmont a 63-62 lead. Karczewski then delivered a jumper in the paint to put the Warriors up 65-62 with 3:18 remaining.

After Vanguard’s Brandon Brothers (14 points) tied the game with a three-point shot, Blau drove the lane and scored from the paint to put Westmont back on top 67-65.

After four points by the Lions gave Vanguard a two-point advantage, a pair of free throws by Blau tied the game at 69 with 51 seconds remaining. Unfortunately for Westmont, those would be the final two Warrior points of the night.

Vanguard would finish the scoring with a layup by Myles Smith (eight points, eight rebounds) and two free throws by Allmon.

Next up for the Warriors is a trip to El Cajon on Saturday to take on the Hawks of San Diego Christian.

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