No. 4 Westminster beats LCSC 75-55
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah - With a number of professional scouts watching in the stands Geoff Payne and the Westminster men's basketball team put on quite a show in beating Lewis-Clark State College 75-55 in a Frontier Conference contest on Saturday night.
Payne, a 6-foot-7 senior forward who's drawing interest at the professional level, finished with game highs of 18 points and nine rebounds to lead the fourth-ranked Griffins to the win.
Westminster improved to 20-2 overall with the win and 6-1 in Frontier Conference play, while the two-time defending conference champion Warriors slip to 8-9 overall and 2-5 in FC play with their third straight loss.
The contest completed the first half of league play and left Westminster alone in first place. LCSC stands in sixth place, but does get to play five of its final seven league games at home. The top four finishers in the league play host to first-round conference tournament games and the remaining highest seeds will get to continue to play at home for the semifinals. The championship game also will be held at the highest remaining seed's home court.
Westminster was never threatened in the game as it was able to roll out to a 44-17 halftime lead with a hot-shooting first half. The Griffins showed why they lead the NAIA in field goal percentage by hitting 17-of-26 shots in the first half for 65.4 percent accuracy. The Warriors, on the other hand, were 6-of-29 for 20.9 percent.
As impressive as Westminster was in the first half, the Griffins kept it rolling in the final 20 minutes. The Griffins hit 14-of-22 shots from the field and finished the game 31-of-48 for 64.6 percent. LCSC shot 54.5 percent from the field in the second half and went 13-of-14 at the foul line to outscore Westminster by seven points in the second half.
"Our guys played real hard in the second half, but we kind of dug ourselves in a huge hole early," LCSC assistant coach Tim Collins said. "Westminster is a good team and they were real efficient with the basketball."
Payne typified Westminster's effort as he was 8-of-10 from the field. He also had four assists. Weston Anderson (5-of-8) finished with 14 points, while Nate Sanchez (5-of-5) added 10 points.
After having problems with turnovers during their last road trip, the Warriors took better care of the basketball on Saturday. LCSC finished with 11 turnovers, compared to 14 for Westminster. LCSC also held its own on the boards, losing the rebounding battle 32-28.
Curtis Allen and Daniel Williams had 14 points apiece for LCSC, while Drew Arnold finished with 12 points.
LCSC returns to action at home for a pair of games at the LCSC Activity Center. On Thursday, the Warriors play host to Montana State University-Northern, while on Saturday, the University of Great Falls will visit. Both games start at 8 p.m.