Jessup misses desperation heave in 89-88 OT loss

Conference tournament starts Friday
By: Matthew Horrocks for The Placer Herald/News Messenger
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For eight seniors, Saturday was the final time they would step onto Horton Court in Warrior Arena.

With the No. 10-ranked Hope International University Royals in town, the William Jessup University men’s basketball team put forth an epic late comeback. But the victory was missed by a matter of inches, as Jessup ended the regular season with a one-point defeat, 89-88 in overtime.

"I have to credit all my seniors," head coach Lance Von Vogt said to open his postgame press conference. "We have eight seniors on this team. They've got great leadership and tremendous heart. They're tenacious, they're Warriors for Christ, and they lock in elbow to elbow. It's the end of the regular season, but you saw a lot of senior leadership (today)."

With the loss, Jessup ended the regular season with 18 victories, tying the most regular-season wins in program history. Jessup's overall record of 18-12 is countered with a .500 finish of 8-8 in Golden State Athletic Conference play.

Trailing by double digits with just under two minutes to play, the Warriors sparked together an incredible comeback to end the game on an 11-1 run to even the score and send the game to overtime. Jessup forced five turnovers during the run, including a steal by senior Chris Murry with 13-seconds to go. Murry found Sherman Simpson under the basket for the tying layup.

In the extra frame, the Warriors got their first lead since back in the first half when senior Kelton Newman sunk a 3-pointer to place Jessup ahead by one. The two sides traded baskets for a short stint before Newman again gave Jessup the lead with a layup. 

The Royals shot 1-of-4 from the free-throw line in the final 30-seconds Saturday, with that lone free throw being the deciding factor. After a missed free throw with three seconds on the clock, junior Christian Jones fired up a half-court shot that clanked off the backboard, hitting front iron and rolling out.

Freshman Brandon Lindsey led the Warriors with 19 points. A key addition to the Jessup starting five midway through the season, Lindsey also added six assists and three steals while shooting 8-of-11 from the line.

Senior Elijah Lewis was the most consistent Warrior on the court, as he shot a perfect 12-of-12 from the line. Lewis finished the game with 17 points and six rebounds, while his 12 free throws sit two shy of tying the Jessup single-game record.

Murry added 15 points in his final game in Warrior Arena, shooting 2-of-9 from deep while going a perfect 5-of-5 from the line. Newman closed the game with 13 points and a block, making it four Warriors in double figures for the second straight game.

"I think Kelton (Newman) has been playing really good basketball for us down the stretch," said Von Vogt of his senior guard. "We had eight seniors, all of them played minutes tonight, and all of them contributed to this game."

Hope International trailed most of the first half, but a 14-1 run to end the opening 20-minutes sent them into the locker room leading 40-37. Jessup's largest lead of the game was nine points, coming after a first half 3-pointer from senior Guillermo Nunez

"I thought our guys earned the victory tonight, even though the scoreboard has a one-point differential. But give credit to Hope International, they earned the victory on their side as well," Von Vogt said. 

"It was two great teams. It was good vs. good all game long, and that's what you want to see in February and March is good vs. good. You don't want one team to play poorly and one team to play well,” the coach added.

Even with the loss, the season is not over, as the Warriors have clinched a spot in the 2017 GSAC Tournament. The tournament is set to begin next Friday in Santa Barbara. The Warriors own the No. 5 seed, and they will take on either The Master's University or Westmont College depending on the outcome of Saturday night's games.