MBK: Westmont beats LC State to advance

For the first time in twelve years, Westmont men’s basketball team will be progressing to the second round of the NAIA Men’s National Tournament. After six days of preparation and practices in Kansas City, the men finally tipped off around 11 p.m. this evening against Lewis-Clark State (Idaho)—an hour and a half later than their scheduled tip-off. Tonight the men took the term “Midnight Madness” to a whole new level, defeating the LC State Warriors 77-60.

“We have been here a long time and we have had more than enough time to prepare,” opened head coach John Moore. “Honestly, we could not get this game here soon enough.”

The eagerness of the team was evident from the moment they stepped onto the court tonight. If you are around this group of men long enough, you realize that there is a certain fire in their eyes when they are locked in and ready to play.

Tonight, that fire was unstoppable.

Westmont sank an impressive 15 for 24 (62.5 percent) shots from the field in the first half of the game, five of those coming from beyond the three-point arc. Daniel Carlin made his presence known right off the bat and truly brought the “Thunder from Down Under” in the paint during the first twenty minutes of play. While going up against defenders who were just as tall as him, Carlin fought for good positioning in the key and earned six points and four rebounds in the first half alone.

“It was a great team win against a very, very good opponent. Lewis-Clark State is one of the best opponents we have played all season long” continued Moore. “I was surprised to see us do as well as we did, but we got a lot of nice performances out of a variety of people.”

The Warriors ran a well-rounded offense, with four players finishing with double digit points on the board. Sean Harman led the way with 12 points, two assists and one steal. Harman still holds the third best 3-point field goal percentage in the NAIA (48.2 percent) and it showed tonight as he sank two nothing-but-net three’s, along with two pull up jumpers and two free throws. Sophomore Cory Blau matched Harman with a total of twelve points in his 15 minutes of play.

Freshman Jerry Karczewski made quite an impression in NAIA National Championship debut. As usual, the freshman played a game with confidence and consistency that is normally seen in veteran players. He nailed a trio of three pointers this evening to help the Warriors maintain their lead for the entire game—never once falling behind.

Hayden Anderson also joined the double-digit scoring club this evening, going 2 for 3 from the field and sinking five out of his six free throws down the stretch. The sophomore contributed ten points and six rebounds to the Warrior win.

While the offense was on fire, it was the Warriors’ defense that made this game successful. “I loved the way we played defense tonight, our defensive field goal percentage must have turned out very good,” raved John Moore.”

Westmont held the opposing Warriors to just a 33.9 overall field goal percentage this evening. The Warrior defense had the perimeter on lockdown, holding their opponents to just two for 15 from long range. Senior Nathan Marsing was once again the defensive leader of the pack, establishing tone and a high standard of play from the moment of tip-off.

While the Warriors are excited to get a win under their belt, they know that the road ahead of them is going to be challenging. “Tonight was great, but we are not done. We are far from being done. We need to execute even better tomorrow against Campbellsville because they are an extremely athletic team. We are excited about this win, but we look forward to moving on.”

Tonight capped off not only a good win for Westmont, but completed a 4-0 Golden State Athletic Conference sweep of the first round. Twenty-five percent of the remaining field are GSAC teams. This will also be the first time in Westmont Athletics history that both the men’s and women’s basketball teams progress to the second round of Tournament play in the same year.

Westmont will continue their championship run tomorrow evening at 9:45 p.m. Friday March 20 against Campbellsville (Ky.).