MONTECITO, Calif. - Westmont Men's Basketball flirted with a 20-point advantage in the first half on Friday afternoon, but by the end of the day, the Academy of Art Urban Knights had completely flipped the script to hand the Warriors a 79-69 loss. Westmont could not overcome the 23 turnovers they committed as the Urban Knights out-scored the Warriors 46-25 in the second half of action.
"Our guys did a great job in the first half," began Westmont head coach Landon Boucher. "It took all 18 minutes to build that 18-point lead we had in the first half. With that, we were playing a team that's top-10 in the country in steals.
"We aren't the first to have this happen to us, this is a team that's forced 30 turnovers on teams this year. In the first half, we did a great job of moving the ball and sharing it with our heads up. If you stop playing like that, against teams like this, the lead is going to diminish."
Baskets by Jarrett Bryant, Zeke Viuhkola, and Adrian McIntyre put Westmont up 6-0 not even two minutes into the game, but it was still long enough for ART U coach Scott Waterman to pull all five of his starters immediately. Waterman's second unit didn't fare much better, as at the 16:00 minute mark in the half Jalen Townsell hit a three to put Westmont up 15-1.
At the 8:45 mark ART U got back within 10, but a minute later, the youngest McIntyre hit another 3-pointer to build Westmont's lead back to 15 at 33-18. With just 1:54 remaining in the first half Bryant converted a pair of free throws to put Westmont up a half-high 18 (44-26). Following the free throws, however, Westmont committed a trio of turnovers to provide life for the Urban Knights, who closed out the half on a 7-0 run in the final two minutes.
Entering the intermission, Westmont found themselves leading 44-33, with Bryant, Viuhkola, and both McIntyre brothers providing nine points each.
When the second half began ART U took advantage of a few more offensive miscues by Westmont, as the Warriors' 13th turnover allowed the Urban Knights to make it a one-possession game with 15:43 remaining (48-45). At that point, Westmont welcomed a media timeout with open arms.
A minute later ART U got back within three, and with nine minutes remaining, they got back within one (58-57). One minute later, following a media timeout, Eli Taylor went to the free throw line and converted one of two shots to tie the game at 58 for the first time since the opening minute.
Minutes later, with 5:08 to play, ART U took their first lead of the day at 62-60 following Westmont's 19th turnover. By the time of the game's next stoppage at the 3:23 mark, Westmont's 21 turnovers had led to them trailing by two possessions at 68-64.
The dagger in the contest came at the two-minute mark, when Westmont fouled an Urban Knight who converted not only the layup attempt, but also the extra shot at the free throw line. At that point, the Urban Knights led by seven at 73-66.
Minutes later, in a game Westmont once led by 18, Academy of Art walked off the floor with a 79-69 win.
Westmont's inability to hang on to the basketball led to ART U shooting 16 more times than the Warriors, while the Urban Knights also scored 17 second-chance points compared to Westmont's four.
"As ugly as the second half was, we still led late in the game," acknowledged Boucher. "We led for 31 minutes of that game. ART U is a great team, they're going to win a lot of games. I think we continue to show that we gain leads on high-caliber teams.
"Now, it's just a matter of playing all 40 minutes."
Following the resumption of classes on Monday the Warriors will travel down to Azusa Pacific on Wednesday night, where they will take on the Cougars at 7:30 p.m. Links to live coverage will be available on the Westmont Athletics website.
(Article courtesy of Westmont)