Westmont Warriors put out the Bethesda Flames

Tim Heiduk, Sports Editor

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The Westmont men’s basketball team overcame an early deficit and held off a furious second half rally by Bethesda (Calif.) to eventually beat the Flames, 88-78, and improve to 2-0 on the young season.

After leading from start to finish in its season opener a week ago, the Westmont men’s basketball team faced an early 13-4 deficit against Bethesda on Monday night. The Warriors committed four turnovers in the first five minutes after only turning the ball over eight times in total during their season opener, but they responded immediately with a 13-0 run to take a 17-13 lead.

Abram Carrasco started the 13-0 run with a driving layup before Hunter Sipe hit a corner 3-pointer for Westmont, who began the game 0-4 from beyond the arc. After two Jared Brown free throws, Noah Fernando’s jumper tied the game up for the Warriors. Brown then finished inside with a lay-in before he shimmied past one defender and fed Tristan Lloyd for a dunk, exciting the home crowd and prompting a Bethesda timeout.

Westmont stretched that lead to as many as 14 in the first half, as the Warriors took a 44-32 advantage into halftime despite only shooting 4-15 from 3-point range.

Sipe led all players at the break with 14 points and two steals, while Lloyd brought down 10 of his game-high 11 rebounds in just nine minutes of play in the first half.

The Warriors’ 12-point halftime lead was extended to as many as 15 with 14:55 remaining, but the visiting Flames fought back to within single digits. Down 57-68, Bethesda went on an 11-1 run to reduce Westmont’s lead to a single point, 69-68, with 6:25 left to play.

Sipe stopped the bleeding with an offensive rebound and put back. Fernando later collected an offensive rebound of his own before finishing at the rim. The Warriors held a 20-5 advantage in offensive rebounds, which translated to a 23-8 margin in second-chance points.

The teams traded baskets before Brown sank a deep 3-pointer to give the Warriors a little breathing room and a seven-point lead, 81-74, with 2:44 remaining.

That lead quickly went up to 12 before the Warriors held on to win by 10.

Sipe led all scorers with 27 points, while also pulling down nine rebounds and collecting four steals. 

All five of Westmont’s starters scored in double figures, as did Fernando off the bench. Justin Bessard scored 14 points, while Carrasco, Brown, Cade Roth, and Fernando all added 10 points apiece.

Roth recorded a double-double with his 10 points and 10 rebounds, setting a career high in boards for the second consecutive game.

The team returns to action on November 6 with a home game against Yellowstone Christian (Mont.).