AZUSA, Calif. – In a match-up of the GSAC’s 2 premier players, Westmont’s Chris Clark got a little more help from his friends than Azusa Pacific’s Caleb Gervin and as a result, the NAIA’s No. 19 Westmont upset No. 4 Azusa Pacific, 84-81, to snap the Cougars’ 11-game winning streak and move back to within a game of first place in the GSAC, behind Azusa Pacific and Concordia.
Clark scored a game-high 33 points, his third straight 30-point outing, and collected a game-high 9 rebounds to lead the Warriors to their third victory in the past 4 games with Azusa Pacific. However, it was senior guard Adrian Phillips who proved to be the difference and with the best supporting role of the night. Phillips tallied 21 points, including 8 in the final 4 minutes of the game, and came up with 2 key steals of Gervin cross-court passes to spur a 12-2 Warrior run down the stretch.
Azusa Pacific appeared to have the game under control, but certainly not in hand against Westmont, leading 77-70 following a pair of Lance Soderberg free throws with 5 minutes remaining in the game. Phillips, though, was relentless in his attack at both ends of the court, first feeding Clark for a lay-up to get the Warriors to within 5 and then coming up with the steals. His 2 free throws followed by his lay-up got Westmont to within one at 79-78. Following a Ladrick Simon dunk to briefly stop the bleeding, Westmont took the lead for good at 80-79 on another pair of Phillips free throws with 2:26 to play. Following a missed Gervin trey from the wing, Phillips connected again on another pair at the charity stripe to give the Warriors a 3-point cushion that made the Cougars chase in desperation the final 2 minute of play.
Westmont owned the paint tonight, scoring 54 of its 84 points on lay-ups and put-backs. The Warriors ran their high-post offense to perfection, picking apart the Cougar defense with a boatload of give-and-gos throughout the night. It was Jeff Grgas’ lay-up, which of course came off a Phillips’ pass, that sealed the win.
The Cougars had a chance to tie the game in the final 41 seconds but Jeff Staniland and Soderberg were unable to bury 3-point shots, with Soderberg’s bouncing twice off the rim before trickling away.
The game was a typical Azusa Pacific-Westmont contest, featuring 21 lead changes and 5 ties. The Cougars were up 36-35 at the half following a Danny Rosales’ lay-up at the buzzer. The Cougars used a 12-5 run with less than 8 minutes to play to assume its biggest lead of the game at 75-67 following a Soderberg jumper with 5:22 to play. Westmont’s biggest lead of the night was 3 on a number of occasions, including the finale.
Gervin led Azusa Pacific with 21 points for his ninth straight 20-point game. Simon chipped in with 17 while Rosales and Staniland each added 12 points.
With the victory, Westmont improves to 13-5 overall, 6-2 in the GSAC. Azusa Pacific falls to 16-3 overall, 8-1 in the GSAC.