MBK: Warriors topple Arizona Christian

PHOENIX, Ariz. – It was a night of firsts this evening as the #25 Westmont men’s basketball team (18-8, 10-3 GSAC) took the court by storm tonight against #11 Arizona Christian (21-7, 10-4 GSAC).

With the 72-66 victory, the Warriors handed the Firestorm their first home loss of the 2014-15 season. Up until this point, Arizona Christian has gone 13-0 on their home court. But tonight’s upset victory brought their perfect record to a screeching, yet glorious, halt.

Earlier this season, the Warriors had an outstanding performance and an upset win against the Firestorm in Murchison Gymnasium, and tonight they did it again. Despite the long travel, despite the loud gym, despite the differential in their national rankings, Westmont stepped onto the court and went to work this evening. They played not only like a team, but as a well-rounded unit that fully trusted and believed in each other. With four players scoring in double-digit points, it was a total and complete team win.

Since tonight was the first game that the Warriors have played outside of California, it was the first time this season that Hayden Anderson got to play in his hometown of Phoenix, Arizona. It honestly would be hard to think of a better game for the junior guard to have in front of his home crowd. Anderson not only scored a team high of 16 points, but posted impressive numbers. He shot 50 percent from outside the arc (2-4) and 100 percent from the free throw line (8-8), giving him some of the best statistics on the team. “Tonight was a solid win for the Warriors,” remarked Head Coach John Moore, “But almost more importantly, it was a storybook night for Hayden Anderson. It was a great homecoming game for him and I think that’s what was most special of all.”

Anderson has played in every game this season and averages about 15.5 minutes per match-up, but tonight he saw 24 minutes of court time and made every single one of them count. Alongside his 16 points, he added five rebounds, two assists and a steal to cap off a very, very impressive night.

Alongside Anderson was senior captain Daniel Carlin who has been the consistent rock of this year’s squad. When Daniel performs well, the Warriors tend to perform well and tonight was no exception. The Aussie played a great game in the paint tonight as he took on some strong inside men from the Firestorm. Carlin locked in 11 points, with nine rebounds and two assists on impressive give-and-go plays. “Daniel was really, really good tonight,” said Moore. “He was powerful and intense and it was his presence inside that allowed us to go 10-23 from the three point line. Anytime you have such force down low, it makes a big difference for our shooters.”

One specific shooter that it made a big difference for was freshmen Jerry Karczewski who, despite his age, performed like a veteran tonight. He made three three-pointers at key times throughout the game and went 5-6 from the free throw line – many of which came with only a few minutes left on the clock. “Jerry’s threes were huge for us tonight. All of our freshmen came to life in the last six minutes of the game. Jerry’s free throws allowed us to make it a two possession game and were crucial down the stretch,” reflected Moore.

Other great performances came from Sean Harman with ten points and Britton Williams who was one of the more aggressive defenders with three rebounds and three steals in 15 minutes of play.

With this victory, the Warriors secured a first round home game for the GSAC playoff tournament starting on Thursday, March 5. Additionally, they officially put themselves one game ahead of Arizona Christian who they have been battling with in the conference standings.

Westmont will continue their road trip this Saturday at 7:30 p.m. against San Diego Christian (5-17, 0-14 GSAC) in El Cajon, Calif. The game will be played at Grossmont College.