Warriors beat Cal Baptist for first GSAC win

After falling behind 7-0 to start the game, Westmont defeated the host Lancers of California Baptist 60-47 on Thursday night in a Golden State Athletic Conference showdown.

Sophomore guard Preston Branson scored 18 points for the Warriors, pulled down four rebounds and tallied four assists. Senior captain Blake Bender, who made seven of 11 from the field, recorded his fifth double-double of the year, scoring 15 points and collecting 11 rebounds. He also pilfered the ball on six occasions. Sophomore guard Niko Brooks added another 12 points to the Warrior cause.

The Warriors (6-3, 1-2 GSAC) were playing without senior forward Dan Rasp who sprained his ankle in Saturday’s game against Point Loma Nazarene. Rasp is expected to miss this coming Saturday night’s game against Hope International as well.

Westmont did not score until almost five minutes into the game when Bender hit a jumper. The Lancers (6-4, 1-3 GSAC) immediately responded with a three-pointer from Kevin Deeb (14 points, 4 rebounds) to make it a 10-2 game before Bender scored again on a lay-up.

Cal Baptist opened a nine point advantage (15-6) with 13:19 left in the first half. The lead would not last long, though.

Branson scored on a layup just eight seconds later and then drained a three-pointer. Brooks also connected from downtown on the next trip down the floor to pull the Warriors to within one point (15-14) with 11:36 to go, completing an 8-0 run. The game would remain within three points for the next 6 1/2 minutes.

Down by one (28-27) with 2:33 left on the first-half clock, the Warriors lit up the scoreboard. Two free throws by Anthony Liplod (4 points) gave Westmont a one-point lead and Matt Hornbuckle added another. Then Brooks struck again from beyond the arc to make the score 33-28 in favor of the Warriors.

After the Lancers’ Luke Evans made one of two free throw attempts, Marcus Farrand (4 points, 3 rebounds) hit two of two from the charity stripe. Brooks then finished off the scoring when he stole the ball and dashed down the court for a layup, giving Westmont a 37-29 halftime lead.

After the intermission, the Warriors built their advantage to as much as 15.

Westmont held Cal Baptist to just a 25 percent field-goal percentage (14 of 56). Brannon Bradley, who coming into the game led the Lancers in both scoring (13.3 points per game) and rebounding (8.3 rebounds per game), was held to just six points and four rebounds. Luke Evans, second in the Lancers’ roster in scoring (12.9 points per game) was held to just five points — all of which were scored from the free throw line.