No. 5 Westmont Uses Torrid Second Half to Escape John Brown

OCEANSIDE, Calif. (December 18, 2012) — Despite sporting a seven-point lead in the first half powered by seven points from a trio of Golden Eagles, John Brown fell to No. 5 Westmont (Calif.), 77-68, as the Warriors (9-1) shot an incredible 73.9 percent in the second half to close out the first day of the CSU – San Marcos Holiday Classic held in Oceanside, Calif.

Sophomore forward Max Hopfgartner finished the game with his third double-double of the season as Hopfgartner posted 18 points and 12 rebounds. Also joining the double-digit scoring group was senior guard Coleson Rakestraw (12 points) and D’Shon Taylor (11 points).

John Brown, after receiving votes in the latest NAIA national poll, went toe-to-toe with the fifth-ranked Warriors in the first half, opening a seven-point (17-10) at the 13:15 mark after a pair of Rakestraw free throws. Westmont battled back to a 17-16 score only to find the Golden Eagles respond by regaining a six-point advantage at the 9:18 mark as Taylor nailed a field goal.

A Westmont triple at the 5:43 mark gave the Warriors a 25-24 lead, its first since 3:48 into the contest. Two Hopfgartner free throw conversions bumped the JBU lead back again to seven, capping off a 9-1 Golden Eagle run.

However, Westmont finished the first half motivated to close the gap before halftime. Preston Branson drained seven points before the half, powered by two treys, to pull the Warriors even with John Brown at the half, 34-34.

While the Golden Eagles limited the Warriors’ looks in the second half, Westmont shot an unprecedented 73.9 percent (17-of-23) in the second half on the heels of Branson’s 18 points in the second frame. Branson finished the contest with a game-high 26 points.

Westmont opened the second half by netting 15 of the opening 20 points, converting an earlier deficit into a ten-point lead at the 13:59 mark.

The Golden Eagles began to turn the ball over and the Warriors widened its lead to a game-high 12 points approaching the halfway point of the second half. John Brown finished the game with 17 turnovers while only forcing 11 Westmont miscues.

A triple from Abel Galliguez and two free throws from Rakestraw trimmed the Westmont lead to seven on two separate occasions, but the Golden Eagles couldn’t inch any closer from knocking off the highly-ranked Warriors.

John Brown shot 36.4 percent (20-of-55) from the field while converting three-pointers at a 34.8 percent clip, led by Galliguez’s three conversions from three-point range. Westmont finished the contest shooting 54.4 percent (31-of-57), draining triples at 35.7 percent (5-of-14).

Beyond Branson’s hot shooting, Westmont used 20 points from Cooper Damron and 15 points from Chris Miller, finishing with 51 of its 77 points from three players.

With the setback, the Golden Eagles drop to 11-2 on the season. JBU returns to the hardwood on Wednesday, Dec. 19, as it closes out its California tournament against Canadian institution Trinity Western (B.C.) in a 7:00 p.m. tipoff.