By Nick Fortini
EL CAJON, Calif. – Staring down a 19-point deficit with 6:42 left in the first half, the San Diego Christian Hawks looked deflated. Visiting Westmont Warriors had the full-court defense turned on high and forced eight Hawk turnovers 14 minutes into the game.
"The ball wasn't moving correctly," SDCC head coach Tim Cook said. "We weren't playing physical on the defensive end. We had to get the ball to rim and be aggressive and see what happens because we were taking too many jump shots. We weren't playing with energy. When we have no energy, nothing works."
Whatever changes Cook did to the offense, it seemed to work. The Hawks pulled out a come from behind victory defeating the No. 5 ranked Warriors 78-75 Saturday night at the Ryan Athletic Center. Derek Dickerson fueled the comeback with 20 second-half points finishing with a game-high 23. He converted 6-of-9 from behind the arc in the second half.
"If he hits his first one, watch out for his second one," Cook said about Dickerson's shooting ability. "We started driving off some ball screens and were able to find him easier. I think he is the best shooter in the country. He makes things easier for the point guards because it opens everything up and makes it easier on the bigs too when you shoot the ball well."
Westmont (19-4, 7-1) was able to get off to a fast start against SDCC. The Warriors made their first 8 shots, all in the paints, and were perfect from the field jumpstarting to a 17-8 lead with 14:30 remaining. Their lead would stretch to 19, their biggest lead of the game, with six minutes left.
Then SDCC (6-11, 3-5) made things interesting going on a 17-5 run to close out the half making the score 39-32 in favor of Westmont. A technical foul called on the Hawks during halftime warm-ups gave the Warriors two free shots before the half started and converted on both attempts. They would carry on the momentum and found themselves up 48-34 with 17 minutes remaining in the second. From that point on, the Hawks made their charge.
Sparked with a dunk from Peter Beale-Wirsing, SDCC scored the next 11 points, including three 3-pointers from Dickerson. The Hawks would then take the lead for the second time since the 19:10 in the first half from another one of Dickerson's 3-pointers as SDCC led 53-51 with 11:13 remaining.
Tied at 61 apiece with 7 minutes left, Kwaminique Brandon would make two clutch free-throws to put the Hawks up by two. From this point on, SDCC never trailed the remainder of the game.
Up six with 59 seconds left in the game, Westmont's Jordan Sachs would hit a 3-pointer to cut the lead in half. He finished with a team high 21 points including 4-of-5 from beyond the arc.
After a missed free throw by the Hawks with 32 seconds left in the game, the Warriors had four chances to tie the game and force it into overtime but failed to convert.
The Hawks finished shooting 48 percent from the field, including 50 percent (12-of-24) from beyond the arc. They held Westmont to 46 percent from the field and forced 18 turnovers.
SDCC's next game is Tuesday Feb. 5 at Biola. The Hawks fell to the Eagles in the first meeting of the season, 72-64. The game is set to tip at 7:30pm.