Early lead allows Jessup to cruise past Arizona Christian

Four Warriors in double figures
By: Matthew Horrocks for The Placer Herald/News Messenger
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Having wrapped up the road portion of the regular season, the William Jessup University men’s basketball team hit the floor in Warrior Arena Thursday for the second-to-last time this season. In front of them were the Arizona Christian University Firestorm.

An early run in the first half put Jessup into a comfortable lead they never relinquished en route to an 82-64 victory. Four players scored in double figures: Micheal Patterson (20), Chris Murry (15), Tahron Morrison (10), and Kelton Newman (10).

"I believe that our depth and our versatility, and our ability to have multiple guys get double-digits has been a strength of ours throughout the year," head coach Lance Von Vogt said postgame. "The fact that we're getting back to that leads us to victory, and we need to see that again … ."

Patterson started the year as a dynamic sixth-man for the majority of the season, but has been inserted into the starting lineup in the past week. Along with his 20 points, Patterson also added a dozen rebounds for his double-double. Thursday pushes Patterson's streak to three consecutive games with 20-plus points.

"(Patterson) was our super sub, but we needed a spark. It didn't make sense this deep in the season to have someone as dynamic as him coming off the bench. We wanted to start with a guy that's dynamic, and so we made that adjustment. He's just a matchup problem," Von Vogt said of his decision to add Patterson to the starting five.

Murry sank 4-of-10 from 3-point range and added three more points from the free-throw line for his 15 points. Off the bench, Morrison and Newman each added 10, with Newman shooting 3-4 from long-range.

Jessup had a number of runs in the win that helped spark the huge advantage. After the Firestorm took an early 5-2 lead, a 17-2 run by the Warriors blew the game wide open.

To start the second half, senior Cody Wilcox scored seven consecutive points on two layups and a 3-pointer, pushing WJU’s lead to 46-35. Wilcox finished with nine points and three rebounds. Jessup led 37-28 at the break.

The Warriors shot nearly 47 percent from the field in the victory and 62 percent from the charity stripe. Arizona Christian produced 41-percent shooting, but were just 4-of-21 from 3-point.

With the victory, the Warriors improved to 18-11, just one win shy of tying the program's record (20-15-16) for most wins in a season. In conference play, Jessup sits one game above .500 at 8-7. 

The Warriors will enter the Golden State Athletic Conference Tournament as the No. 5 seed and face Westmont College in the first round March 3.

"Every game is a one-game season, and we want to be successful in every single one of those," said Von Vogt of not placing his attention on the playoffs just yet. "It takes a season to make the National Tournament and you can't take any games off."