In a battle that came down to the buzzer, No. 6-ranked Westmont Men's Basketball (21-4, 9-1 GSAC) recorded a 62-59 Golden State Athletic Conference win over No. 15 Hope International (21-5, 6-4) on Saturday night.
"It was a game of will," said Westmont head coach John Moore. "It wasn't a perfect game by any stretch of the imagination, but our guys had great will and saw the way to score a few more points."
Down 57-53, C.J. Miller scored on a jumper with just less than four minutes to play. After a turnover by the Royals, Jordan Sachs (7 points, 6 rebounds) drilled a shot from three-point range to give Westmont a 58-57 advantages.
After a Hope International timeout, the Royals' Kris Rosales (9 points) knocked down a jumper to recapture the lead for the home team with three minutes remaining on the game clock.
One minute later, Cooper Damron was fouled and sank both free throws giving the Warriors a 60-59 lead. Defense prevailed over the next two minutes. With five seconds to play, Rosales stepped to the free throw line with an opportunity to give Hope the lead. However, he missed both shots and Sachs came down with the rebound. Fouled with one second to play, Sachs made both attempts from the charity stripe, accounting for the final score.
Preston Branson led the Warriors in scoring with 16 points while Miller and Jason Ritchey added 10 points each.
"It was good to have Preston back," said Moore." C.J. was in foul trouble in the first half, but had a real good second half. He got us back into the game the first few minutes of the second half with our first eight points.
"Before the game, we said that our bench was going to have to give us some help. I thought Jason Ritchey and Mantas (Drungys) did some very good things for us off the bench. Our depth may have worn Hope down a little bit which might have contributed to their missed free throws at the end of the game."
With four games remaining in the regular season, Westmont holds a three game lead over the Royals and Arizona Christian (16-6, 6-4), both of whom are tied for second in the GSAC Standings. Arizona Christian defeated visiting Vanguard (15-10, 4-6) by an 82-71 margin on Saturday.
Concordia (16-8, 5-5), which recorded a 92-77 win over San Diego Christian (6-13, 3-7), is in fourth place, four games behind the Warriors. Vanguard is tied with Biola (14-12, 4-6) for fifth place after the Eagles sneaked past The Master's (14-11, 3-7) by a single point (54-53).