The sixth-ranked Westmont men’s basketball team clinched its first outright Golden State Athletic Conference regular season title since 2013 with a 91-74 victory over San Diego Christian on Senior Night.
“It feels great for this team,” Westmont head coach John Moore said. “This has been very special and in so many ways surprising. I love being surprised by a group of guys that are so indicative of what we want to be as an institution.
“The kind of people who rally when the women’s program does well. They’re not saying, ‘Oh I wish we had what they have.’ There’s none of that. It’s celebrating all the good things about all of our athletic programs. Then celebrating each other. I don’t think any of our guys are selfish.”
The Warriors were led on Senior Night by their two seniors, Justin Bessard and Jordan Spaschak. Bessard led all players with a near double-double of 25 points and nine rebounds, while Spaschak, playing in his first game of the season after battling injuries, tied his career high with nine assists.
“What an inspiration Jordan Spaschak is, a guy who’s not played a minute all year long,” Moore said. “Jordan is so mentally tough and the things he did for our team tonight leadership wise will never go down in a box score. He still had a good game. He had nine assists, his all-time high.
“JB (Bessard) was extra special tonight. It was nice getting him back in the scorer’s column and rebounding, shooting it at a high percentage. I thought we got excellent play out of quite a number of people, but I want to highlight those two guys and what they’ve been able to provide our program.”
The two seniors connected on the Warriors’ first basket of the game, when Spaschak found Bessard for a layup.
Westmont took its largest lead of the first half when Abram Carrasco hit a three-pointer at the 10:23 mark, putting the Warriors up by 13, 27-14.
That advantage was brought down to nine going into halftime, 42-33, after Westmont shot five of seven (71.4%) from behind the arc.
That lead was quickly extended back to double digits at the start of the second half when the Warriors came out firing from deep, with Bessard, Carrasco and Noah Fernando all hitting threes. Westmont led by as many as 25 points when Carrasco’s layup gave the Warriors a 65-40 advantage with 13:32 left to play.
The crowd and Westmont bench were brought to its feet when Spaschak’s hook shot went through the basket about halfway through the second half.
“When Jordan Spaschak hit that hook shot, they were celebrating like it was the best thing that ever happened to them,” Moore said of his bench’s reaction. “He was one of the last people to cut down the nets and the biggest roar was for Jordan when he cut the nets down.”
The closest the Hawks got the rest of the way was within 17 points, as Westmont was able to return to its winning ways.
The Warriors shot 12 for 19 (63.2%) from three-point range for the game and 58.9% overall from the field.
Spaschak’s nine assists helped Westmont double San Diego Christian in assists, 20 to 10.
After Bessard’s 25 points, Carrasco (22 points) and Jared Brown (12 points) also scored in double figures.
Immediately following the victory, the Westmont men joined the Westmont women in a net-cutting ceremony to celebrate the two teams clinching conference championships. The women’s team secured at least a share of the GSAC regular season title with its 96-34 win over San Diego Christian before the men’s game Thursday.
The Westmont men had previously clinched at least a share of the conference regular season crown after defeating Vanguard on Feb. 15, but needed one more win or a loss by #16 Menlo to clinch the outright championship. The Warriors got both on Thursday.
As the GSAC regular season champion, Westmont will host the GSAC Tournament next week and be the number one seed. Before that though, the Warriors will first play their regular season finale on Saturday at Hope International, who clinched the sixth and final spot in the GSAC Tournament by beating Vanguard on Thursday.
Tip-off in Fullerton is scheduled for 4:00 p.m.
Article courtesy of Westmont Athletics