Westmont pulls away from UC Merced

slynch@mercedsunstar.comNovember 30, 2012 

A little rest and some home cooking seemed to be exactly what UC Merced needed.

After playing seven of their first eight contests on the road, the Golden Bobcats men's basketball team returned to Hostetler Court for the first of a four-game homestand on Friday night.

It seemed to be exactly what the team needed as UC Merced took the court with the kind of energy that head coach John Sykes has been looking for all season.

Sustaining that kind of energy against the NAIA No. 9 team in the country, proved difficult, however.

A few consecutive bad possessions in the middle of the second half allowed Westmont College to build a double-digit lead. The Bobcats could never quite recover as the Warriors pulled away for an 82-67 victory.

"Tonight was great, especially the way we started," said forward Kevin Ellsworth, who had 13 points and three steals off the bench. "I think getting a couple days' rest combined with the crowd really re-energized us.

"We'd come out flat the last couple games, so the start tonight was big. Unfortunately, they have a lot of guys that can knock down shots.

"It's tough to defend when they have five guys that can post you up or then knock down 3s."

Playing against a frontcourt that boasted six players over 6-foot-5, UC Merced (0-9) used energy and quickness to build a quick 18-6 lead with an 11-0 run.

Aki Chambers (team-high 20 points, nine rebounds) scored six straight himself during the run, bringing an almost full house to life.

Westmont (7-1) began to chip away at the lead, however.

Jordan Sachs scored 14 of his team-high 20 points in the opening half, helping the Warriors to cut the lead to 29-27 with five minutes to go until intermission.

Once the Westmont offense found a rhythm, it was tough to stop. The Warriors closed the half on a 17-7 run to take a 44-36 lead into the half.

"They move around well offensively and have a lot of guys who can score," Sykes said. "If you relax for one second on defense they'll burn you.

"I've known all along that we can play with anyone, but I was very pleased with the performance we turned in tonight.

"Now we just need to bring that energy every game."

UCM had the lead down to five with 12 minutes to play, but three straight bad possessions allowed Westmont to push its lead to double digits.

The Bobcats never recovered.

Master's College 75, UC Merced 38

Master's College hardly looked like a team that stepped off a bus 10 minutes before tip-off.

The Mustangs were casualties of the Highway 99 shutdown, just reaching the game in time. But they outscored UCM 36-12 in the opening half and cruised to a 75-38 win.

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