Warriors take 65-46 lesson from Biola

The opening of Golden State Athletic Conference play against the rival Eagles of sixteenth ranked Biola (6-0, 1-0 GSAC) is probably not the way that Westmont head coach John Moore would have scheduled for his team if he had been given the option – especially since the game was played on the final day of November. Tonight’s 65-46 loss in La Mirada is exactly what the veteran coach would have liked to avoided for the Warriors (5-2, 0-1).

“I think they were the much better team, tonight,” said Moore of Biola. “We have a lot to learn from this game.”

The first ten minutes of the game was close. The Eagle’s Dwight Gordon (18 points, 5 rebounds) was the first to score but not until over two minutes into the game. Westmont answered back with a free throw by Blake Bender (5 points, 10 rebounds) and a layup by Preston Branson (8 points) to give the Warriors a 3-2 lead with 16:36 left in the opening period. It would prove to be the Warriors’ only lead of the game.

Up 16-15 with nine and one-half minutes remaining in the first half, the Eagles put together a 7-0 run to take a 23-15 advantage. TJ Lipold responded for the Warriors with a long-range bucket from the corner to get the Warriors to within five (23-18).

The Eagle’s Andrew Schroeder nailed a jumper with two minute on the first half clock and thirty seconds later Curtis Eatmon (10 points) added to Biola’s lead with two free throws. Westmont’s Evan Haines completed the first-frame scoring with a jumper and the Eagles went into the locker room with a 27-20 advantage.

“There are times were we didn’t execute,” said Moore. “Our first couple of offensive sets we knew what we wanted to run and we didn’t do that. We wanted to try and fast break and either they are a much better transition defense team than we expected them to be or our guys were just tired. We have done a lot of traveling so maybe we have to give a little bit of blame to that.”

Biola began to pull away early in the second half, outscoring the Warriors 24-11 in the first ten minutes. Westmont closed the gap to 13 (51-38) on a Preston Branson jumper with eight minutes to play and it looked as though the Warriors had a chance to get back in it, but that was as close as Westmont would get.

Dan Rasp led the Warriors with 13 points, despite fouling out with nearly five minutes to play.

The Eagles saw three players reach double figures in addition to Gordon and Eatmon – Andrew Schroeder notched 13 while Nate Rakestraw and Clay Martin each scored 10.

“We had a good distribution of different guys scoring and made some defensive plays at different times in the second half,” said Biola head coach Dave Holmquist. “I was just hoping to win, so was real surprised that we won by a good number of points. I have such great respect for John (Moore) and how he coaches and how hard (Westmont) plays year after year. So this was an aberration to win by more than three or four points.”

“We know that there is a good bit to work on,” said Moore. “Games like this teach you a lot. You take two or three things away from it and we will have a chance to work on those two or three things as we go into the rest of our conference play.”

The next opportunity will be on Saturday night as Westmont host Point Loma Nazarene (3-3, 1-0) at Murchison Gymnasium. Tip-off is 7:30 p.m.