Comeback attempt falls just short
Views 26 | Time to read: 3 minutes | Uploaded: 4 - 1 - 2019 | By: Caleb Soto
The Westmont Warriors men’s basketball team entered the NAIA nationals for the fifth straight year. Last Thursday’s matchup was a tall order as they faced the #3 team in the NAIA, the Benedictine College Ravens.
Benedictine struck first with a jumper from the paint, but the Warriors were the ones who controlled the following minutes, as they led 12-6 within the first five minutes of the half. With thirteen and-a-half minutes remaining in the first-half, Benedictine tied the game at 14 apiece, but on the Warriors’ next possession, Kyle Scalmanini hit a three to regain the lead. Westmont’s lead was extended on the following trip down with a Scalmanini jumper. Once again, the Ravens fought back in hopes of gaining their first lead since the beginning of the game, but Gyse Hulsebosch netted a three to put the Warriors
up 24-21. Later on, Hulsebosch knocked down another three to give the Warriors an eight-point lead, their largest of the half. Still trying to gain an advantage, Benedictine forced a fifth tie of the half, but they could not get the upper hand. Hulsebosch hit his third three of the game and Benedictine answered with a three of their own to end the half with the Warriors up 38-37.
At the start of the second half, Olisa Nwachie went one for two at the line, giving Westmont a two-point advantage. Soon after, the Ravens tied up the game at 39 apiece and later took a 41-39 lead, their first lead since the first minute of the first half. Not long after Max Hudgins drained a shot from downtown to give the Warriors the lead again. Suddenly, the Ravens found their offensive rhythm by going on an 8-0 run. Hulsebosch’s fourth three brought the Warriors to within one, but a jumper and a free-throw increased the deficit to four. Scalmanini hit another three making the score 54-53 still in favor of the Ravens. Once again Benedictine ran off eight straight points and a nine-point lead with less than eleven minutes of play left. Fighting back, the Warriors closed the gap with Nwachie and Hudgins scoring the next seven points. However, Benedictine was showing why they were a one seed at Nationals by going on a 15-3 run and had Westmont on the ropes. The Warriors would have to claw their way back from a 14-point deficit with less than 3 minutes to go. With proficient play from the Warriors down the stretch, they were able to hack away at the Ravens lead with a number of threes by Scalmanini and Hulsebosch as well as Nwachie adding points from the paint, but their comeback fell short. Benedictine advanced to the next round by a score of 90-85.
The Westmont Warriors gave the third ranked team in the NAIA a run for their money as they almost pulled off a “March Madness-like” upset. Hulsebosch provided 25 points off the bench with a barrage of threes and Scalmanini added 24 points. Nwachie’s final game as a Warrior finished with 15 points and 10 boards.