Occidental Falls Victim to Old Ways of Ex-Coach
One of the major adjustments Brian Newhall made when he took over for Bill Westphal as basketball coach at Occidental College was to all but abolish the 3-point shot upon which the Tigers relied so heavily last season.
Westphal left to take the coaching job at Grand Canyon College in Arizona, and, as evidenced by his team’s 88-80 win over the Tigers in the championship game of the Occidental tournament Saturday night, he maintains his affection for the perimeter shot.
Antelope guard Darryl Williford, who scored a game-high 27 points, accounted for 7 of Grand Canyon’s 11 baskets from 3-point range. Although Williford was consistently deadly from long range--often releasing missiles from 5 to 8 feet beyond the 3-point stripe--Occidental fans persisted in chanting “Shoot!” when he touched the ball.
“We wanted those guys to shut up,” Newhall said of the taunters.
Occidental trailed by 20, 74-54, with 7 minutes to play when it mounted an impressive rally led by senior forward John Keister.
Keister scored 9 points and Jon Crawley and Ethan Caldwell also scored as Occidental ran off a 14-2 spurt in a span of 3 minutes to trim the deficit to 76-68.
But with 4:13 to play, Chris Anderson, the Tigers’ 6-foot 10-inch center who scored a team-high 22 points, fouled out.
The momentum did not immediately swing in the Antelopes’ favor, however, as Caldwell converted a 3-point shot and Crawley added a turnaround jump shot from the free-throw line. Caldwell then buried a 12-foot baseline jump shot with 2:25 to play to cut the deficit to 81-75. But the flurry came too late as the Tigers were unable to catch Grand Canyon down the stretch.
Craig Johnson scored 15 points and Mike Ledbetter added 10 for Grand Canyon, which led at halftime, 45-35. The Antelopes led by as many as 15 points in the first half before Occidental mounted a short rally midway through the half. Williford made 5 3-point baskets in the first half.