Rasp’s dunk kicks off Warriors season

Senior forward Dan Rasp recorded 22 points while senior guard Blake Bender added another 16 points and eight rebounds as the Warriors rolled to an 88-68 win over Cal State Maritime in the season opener for both teams.

Dan Rasp scored the first points of the year for the Warriors in dramatic fashion just 30 seconds into the game. Sophomore guard Preston Branson missed a layup on a breakaway, but Rasp followed and soared above the rim. It seems an injustice to call it a tip-in, since Rasp collected the ball a foot above the rim and stuffed it through the hoop.

“It was a spectacular play,” said Westmont head coach John Moore. “The ball bounced off the rim and his elbow was up their by the rim. I can’t wait to see that one on tape.”

However, the Warriors struggled throughout the rest of the first half. While they remained just ahead of the Keelhaulers in points for most of the opening frame, they were not hitting on all cylinders.

“The first half we were unorganized and were having to rely on pure talent to keep the lead because Maritime kept hitting shots,” said Rasp.

“I thought in the first half we played anxious, nervous, uptight,” said Moore. “I thought in the second half there was great energy. I thought defensively we were really good in the second half. They had the majority of their turnovers in the second half and their turnovers led to some run outs.”

Westmont took a 40-36 lead into halftime, then outscored Cal State Maritime 48-32 in the second half.

“In the second half, we put it together and started playing much better as a team,” said Rasp. “It showed on the scoreboard and the energy levels were up higher after we started playing better together. It was a good call by coach to switch up (the defense) to a 1-3-1 and put some pressure on them. As a team, we played good defense. We contested every shot and all we had to do was get a couple of more boards.”

The Warriors hit sixty percent of their shots (30 of 50) while holding the Keelhaulers to 48.3% (29 of 58).

“We shot a lot of open shots and were patient for the most part,” said Rasp. “I took the shots I could get. I knew I was bigger than the guy that was guarding me so I knew I could get a lot of easy shots up.”

The big difference in the game was at the free throw line where Westmont went 24 for 34 and Cal State Maritime was just 8 for 18.

Senior guard Blake Bender scored 16 points and collected eight rebounds for the Warriors while Branson notched 10 points, five rebounds and five assists. Nico Brooks added another eight points and four boards.

“I thought Matt Hornbuckle and TJ Lipold were really special out there,” said Moore. “TJ only had five points, but those points were really spectacular. I thought Matt Hornbuckle really did some spectacular things for us. He was a point a minute man – 14 points in 14 minutes. I told Jordan Sachs that he had the most productive six minutes of his career.”

The next time Westmont takes the court, it will be at Pauley Pavilion for an exhibition game with UCLA. The game will be played at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, November 4. The Warriors then board an airplane and head to New York where they will extend their exhibition season by taking on St. John’s on Saturday, November 6.