Men's basketball beats Westmont 94-80 in last exhibition game
After struggling in the first half, the University of Portland men’s basketball team won against the Westmont Warriors in an exhibition game Saturday night, beating them 94-80.
“(Our mindset was) to just not take any team lightly, just treat it like any other game, any other opponent,” sophomore point guard Marcus Shaver Jr. said. “And I don’t think we did that tonight in the first half.”
The Pilots came out slow, lacking energy and giving the Warriors opportunities to score and even hold a short lead of 5-3. But the home team was able to quickly take the lead for themselves, though it wasn’t a steady one. The Pilots kept letting the visiting team get close, holding a 10 point lead at most thanks to redshirt junior Josh McSwiggan’s efforts with 13 points in the first half.
But the Warriors kept the Pilots on shaky ground with back cuts and quick layups. In the last few minutes before half time, the Warriors gained momentum and were able to cut the lead to 42-39 with a last-second jumper from Westmont redshirt senior Olisa Nwachie.
“We weren’t making shots early...They run a very good offense,” assistant coach Bob Cantu said. “To teams like that, if you give them confidence and they kind of hang around a little bit, they can make it a little bit more competitive.”
In the second half, the Pilots came back stronger, with some quick shots coming from Shaver Jr., who scored 22 points. Portland was able to hold a double-digit lead for the rest of the game. McSwiggan, the top scorer of the night with 24 points, kept the team ahead by a comfortable margin.
“The coaches really got into us in the locker room before half time,” Shaver Jr. said. “Everybody just got together and just made the right plays.”
Other Pilots also scored in double digits during the game, including junior Franklin Porter and sophomore Malcolm Porter with 17 and 12 points, respectively.
“Once we got in a groove of things, I think we did a really good job, and we grinded out a good win,” McSwiggan said. “And we’re moving on to the next one.”
As for the rest of the season, which officially starts this week, the Pilots are optimistic despite expectations based on their previous records.
“I expect to be a top five team in the conference,” Shaver Jr. said. “Everybody sleeping on us. They got us ranked last, so we’re going to prove them wrong this year for sure.”
Men’s basketball will next play the Multnomah Lions at home on Tuesday, Nov. 6.
Ana Clyde is a sports reporter for The Beacon. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org