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Warriors open second half with pair of wins

By: Staff Report
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With a battle with first-place Cal Maritime on the horizon, the William Jessup men's basketball team (6-2 in the California Pacific Conference) stayed on track with two wins last week. The Warriors headed up to Pacific Union College in Angwin Thursday for the start of the second round of conference action. On a night were the Warriors could not catch a break or get any momentum, they found a way to pull out a 64-60 overtime victory. In the first half, the Warriors slowly built a 20-13 lead with six minutes left, but the Pioneers answered with a 12-2 run to take their first lead of the game. Pacific Union used its home court advantage to gain a 27-26 lead at intermission. The second half was similar to the first, with the teams trading baskets until the final minutes. The Pioneers tied the game 52-52 on a jumper by Will Bell and had one last chance to win the game in regulation, but Kameron Barnes missed a contested elbow jumper to send the game into overtime. In overtime, WJU tightened up the defense as it forced two consecutive turnovers to build a four-point lead with 1:30 left. Pacific Union responded, but the Warriors hit clutch free throws in the final minute of overtime to secure the win. For William Jessup, Kadeem Kirsten scored 15 points to lead the offense. Barnes led the Pioneers with a game high 24 points. Lucas Domingue had 10 points for the Warriors in the win. "Our guys hung tough tonight," said head coach Aaron Muhic. "We found a way to get it done. The game was very stagnant, with no rhythm for both teams. It felt like being in the twilight zone. We got the stops down the stretch we needed." William Jessup was back home Saturday for a date with Simpson College of Redding. The Warriors used a balanced attack to take down the RedHawks 92-73 in the Warrior Dome. From the opening jump, the Warriors and RedHawks traded the lead six times in the opening half, the final time at 11-11 on a 3-pointer by Simpson's Justin Sparks. The next Warrior basket, a trey by Austin Nelson, gave the Warriors the lead for good. William Jessup clamped down on the RedHawk's perimeter shooting and took advantage of its height inside to quickly push the lead to double digits on a Kirsten lay-up with 7:14 left and up to 20 on a Tevin Hurd free throw with 1:33 left. The two teams went into the halftime intermission with the Warriors up 48-29. In the second half, the story was the same. The Warriors kept their lead above 20 most of the way as WJU continued to pound the ball into the paint. The largest lead of the ball game for the Warriors was at 28, the last time on an Austin Nelson free throw with 7:36 left. With both benches cleared, Simpson would get the lead to 13 with 2:05 left. However, the Warriors Sterling Shells and Paul Johnson hit buckets as they pulled away again for the victory. Three of the five William Jessup starters reached double figures, led by Damal Neil's 18 points. Jason Stubbs led the RedHawks with a game high 24 points. Jason Washington had 14 points and seven assists, while Kirsten had 12 for the Warriors in the win. Nelson and Hurd came off the bench to score 11 and 10 points, respectively. Overall, the Warriors' bench outscored the RedHawks' bench 39-27 and won the battle of points in the paint 46-30. "We played an all-around good game tonight," Muhic said. "Simpson is a good team and we knew we needed to come in focused. I thought our bench gave us a spark and we passed the ball well for great shots. We continue to work on getting better everyday." Jessup improves to 6-2 in conference, while Simpson drops to 2-6. The next game for William Jessup is Thursday night at home against the first place Keelhaulers from CSU-Maritime. Game time is set for 7:30 pm.