In a battle of Golden State Athletic Conference unbeatens, seventh-ranked Westmont (16-3, 4-0) posted a 78-54 win over No. 16 Hope International (18-2, 3-1) on Saturday night. The Warriors, who have taken over sole possession of first place, have won their last six games.
In the first half, the Royals showed why they came into the game as the second-ranked defense in the NAIA, having given up an average of just 57.1 points per game. Though the Warriors led 31-29 at halftime, the Royals led the battle of the boards by one and forced 10 turnovers.
“There are two things that we had on the board (in the locker room) – defense and controlling turnovers,” said Westmont Head Coach John Moore. “We played great defense in the second half and we had a lot fewer turnovers. Hope was getting easy baskets in the first half because they were getting live turnovers. In the second half, we controlled tempo by playing zone defense and we outrebounded them by nine.
“This was reunion weekend and we had a lot of alums here who remembered Hope International only one way – an opportunity to score a season high,” said Moore. “This is not their Hope team. (Hope International head coach) Bill Czech is an outstanding coach and he has some of the best athletes in the league.
“Their first half really indicated how good they are. Our second half indicated how good we can be. I told the guys I wanted them to relish and enjoy this win, but I want them to be unsatisfied. I want two good halves. With two good halves, you become a dominate team.”
The Warriors shot 68.0 percent in the second half (17 of 25), to outscore the Royals 47-25. Jordan Sachs continued his outstanding season with a team high 16 points, 10 rebounds and five assists. C.J. Miller added 15 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists. Preston Branson added 11 points and three rebounds.
Hope International was led by Orlando Collins with 16 points and 7 rebounds. Jeremy Kilgor added another 13 points and five boards.
The Warriors enjoyed the company of a good number of alumni on Friday and Saturday.
“Reunion weekend is always a special weekend,” said Moore. “Will Gully, a 2003 alum, and T.J. Lipold (’12) spoke to the guys before the game. As a recent alum, T.J. cares deeply for these guys. Will and T.J. did a very nice job.
“Last night, Jon Freeman spoke, sharing his testimony and the impact that (former Westmont head coach) Chet Kammerer had on his life. Two of our seniors, Cooper Damron and Jordan Sachs got up and spoke and basically said thanks for letting us be a part of your legacy that is now a part of our legacy.”
Next week, the Warriors hit the road to take on The Master’s on Tuesday and Arizona Christian on Saturday.
“We played almost all our games in November on the road,” noted Moore. “Our team is ready for going on the road. They are a very good and tight road team.”