MBK: Westmont drops 3rd straight in GSAC

By Jordan Wyatt
Following two close, disappointing losses on the road to begin Golden State Athletic Conference play, Westmont Men’s Basketball returned to the comforts of Murchison Gymnasium Tuesday evening in hopes of taming the 23rd ranked Lions of Vanguard.

With a perfect 8-0 home record at their back, the Warriors sought to employ their strong play inside Murchison to rectify a tumultuous start to conference play. However, the Warriors’ (11-6, 0-3 GSAC) plan to obtain their first GSAC victory of the season sputtered, as they fell to the Lions (16-2, 3-0) by a score of 85-74.

“Two things our coaching staff always measures are attitude and effort,” expressed Westmont head coach John Moore. “Both of those, coming into this game, and in this game, were good. I liked how hungry we played; our execution just wasn’t good enough.”

Senior Brendan Hill sparked the Warriors early by dropping off a stylish assist to fellow senior Mantas Drungys (18 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist) on Westmont’s first possession. On the team’s next trip down, Hill streaked through the lane and finished his drive with a bucket. Then, he turned around and recorded the first steal of the game by picking off an errant pass.

Responding to Moore’s challenge for more squad members to step up and contribute, the Warriors built their first half point total by committee. At the 8:32 mark of the first half, Westmont had established a five-point lead, with seven Warriors registering at least one score.

However, Vanguard would respond defensively. Over the course of the next two minutes, the Lions would not succeed a point, forcing the Warriors into four turnovers on six possessions.

Despite outrebounding the Lions by six, and accruing seven more assists in the initial 20 minutes of competition, Westmont struggled against Vanguard’s extended zone defense. The Warriors also gave the ball away over twice as many times as Vanguard did in the first half (12 to five), putting themselves in a two-point hole (31-29) at the intermission.

The turnovers continued as the new half kicked off, with Westmont committing an error on their first possession. To make matters worse, Vanguard’s DeAngelo Jones (30 points on 8-of-14 shooting, 10-of-11 free throw, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal) would subsequently drill two straight three-pointers to extend the Lions’ lead to eight just two minutes in.

“Vanguard is a very good team with a lot of offensive weapons,” remarked Moore. “We did a really nice job on their leading scorer, Preston Wynne (10 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals – averages 17.4 points per game), but Jones really got us tonight.”
At the 15:27 mark, a silver lining appeared as Vanguard was pinned with their seventh team foul of the second period. Nonetheless, the Warriors couldn’t combat their own sloppy play, as the scoreboard continued to show separation in favor of the Lions.

Backed by the passion and tenacity of their seniors, the Warriors mustered one final run as the game’s final minutes faded.

With Hill driving the lane and crafting the offensive, Marcus Farrand (11 points, 8 rebounds, 2 blocks, 1 steal), Jason Ritchey (18 points, 7 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block), and C.J. Miller (10 points, 12 rebounds) all converted on vital baskets down the stretch. Nevertheless, too many long range shots hitting iron, coupled with turnovers, sunk the chance of an absolute rejoinder by the Warriors.