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WJU men in striking range of first place

By: Staff Report
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An impressive two-win week put the William Jessup men's basketball team within one-half game of first place in the California Pacific Conference standings. The Warriors welcomed in the first place California Maritime Keelhaulers in a key conference match-up Thursday. The game took on the strange tone of the two teams' last matchup in Vallejo where WJU had a double-digit lead only to have the Keelhaulers come back for the win. However, this time it was the Warriors who erased a double-digit deficit to defeat the Keelhaulers 80-70 at the Warrior Dome. After the Warriors tied the game and subsequently took the lead on a Jason Washington three-point play with 6:40 left in the half, the Keelhaulers surged ahead again and expanded their lead to double digits on a lay-up by Robert Awil with 3:55 left. Jessup cut the Maritime lead to seven points before halftime on an Austin Nelson 3-pointer with 38 seconds left. In the second half, the Keelhaulers expanded their lead to 13 with 16:02 left in the contest, and led 53-42 with 11:02 to play. From there, WJU started chipping away at the CSU Maritime lead. Austin Nelson started the charge with a 3-pointer, and then Jason Washington slashed to the paint for a lay-up followed by a Kadeem Kirsten bucket. Off an Andrew Medeiros turnover, Kadeem Kirsten laid the ball into the net with 7:55 left to help the Warriors tie the game at 55-55. Maritime took the lead again on a Michael Weimer free throw, but Jason Washington responded with a three. Jordan Birchell answered with a layup for the Keelhaulers, but Lucas Dominique came right back with a lay-up of his own to give the Warriors the lead for good. Jason Washington led the Warriors with a game high 20 points and eight assists. Michael Weimer led the Keelhaulers with 20 points. Kadeem Kirsten had 18 points, while Austin Nelson came off the bench to score 13 for the Warriors in the win. Lincoln High and Sierra College product Haven Piatt had 16 points for Maritime. "This is CALPAC basketball at its best," said head coach Aaron Muhic. "It was gut check time for us. Maritime is a very good team and we just kept fighting. It was a role reversal from the first time we played. Jason and Kadeem put us on their backs and said we refuse to lose. Austin was big off the bench." The Redwood Auditorium in Scotts Valley is the one of the toughest home court advantages in the California Pacific Conference. The Warriors used a late runner by senior guard Jason Washington to beat an inspired Bethany University team 66-64 in the follow-up game Saturday night. William Jessup jumped out fast with two Eleazar Jones 3-pointers. However, the Bruins answered as the game remained tight early on. Jessup managed to stretch the lead to 20-11 before the Bruins used a 9-2 run to pull within two. The Warriors finished the half strong as they took a 29-21 lead into halftime. In the second half, the Bruins chipped their way back into the ballgame. WJU built its lead to 40-29 halfway through the second half, when the Bruins began to heat up, while the Warriors went cold. Bethany used a 14-2 run to take the lead at 43-42 with six minutes left in the game. The contest went back and forth in nail-biting action. Bruins' senior Bernard Mooney hit a shot with 25 seconds left to tie the game at 64-64. After a Warrior timeout, Jessup ran the clock down before Washington found a crease in the lane to hit the game winner with 1.9 seconds left. The Bruins shot at the buzzer came up way short to secure the Warrior victory. Kirsten led the Warriors with a game-high 20 points. Milton Brown had 13 points to lead the Bruins. Damal Neil had 15 points and Jones had 13 points for the Warriors in the win. Washington added nine assists. "Bethany deserves a lot of credit," Muhic said. "We built a lead and the Bruins would not go away. I thought we answered them with a lot of poise down the stretch. Now, we need to get ready for a very tough Menlo team. They are playing extremely well right now. We need to have great practices this week. These guys are working hard and staying focused." William Jessup is in Atherton Thursday to take on Menlo College. Game time is 8 p.m.