Payne is a pain in LCSC's side as Westminster wins 72-68
LEWISTON, Idaho – Geoff Payne scored 20 of his game-high 26 points in the second half to help Westminster past Lewis-Clark State 72-68 and claim the Frontier Conference regular season men’s basketball title at the LCSC Activity Center on Saturday night.
Payne, a 6-foot-7 forward who is drawing attention from NBA scouts, was a relative non-factor in the first half when he had only six points. The Griffins, however, went to Paine often in the second half and he responded with a solid effort to help Westminster finish the regular season at 25-4 overall and 11-3 in conference play.
The Warriors, who finish sixth in the league at 11-13 and 5-9, gave Westminster a tough run, but couldn’t pull off the upset victory.
Both teams now open the Frontier Conference playoffs on Thursday with the top four teams playing at home. Westminster will play host to No. 8 Montana Tech, while No. 2 Rocky Mountain will play at home against No. 7 Great Falls. LCSC will travel to Havre, Mont., to face Montana State-Northern, while Carroll will play host to Montana Western. All games will start at 7 p.m., Mountain time.
Payne’s performance on Saturday proved to be a pain for LCSC. He hit 12-of-19 shots from the field and added 11 rebounds and three assists. Danny Stosich came off the bench to add 14 points for the Griffins.
For LCSC, seniors Curtis Allen and Brian Duckworth were solid in what was likely their last home game. Allen finished 10-of-16 from the field for 24 points and also had nine rebounds, four assists and a steal. Duckworth finished 7-of-15 from the field, including 4-of-8 at the 3-point line, and added five assists, four rebounds and three steals.
While the two seniors combined to go 17-of-31 from the field, the rest of the Warriors struggled and hit only 8-of-33 shots. That left LCSC 25-of-64 in the game for 39.1 percent. Westminster was 28-of-58 for 48.3 percent, including 16-of-29 in the second half.
LCSC jumped out to the early lead and had some opportunities to do more damage, but missed several shots close to the basket. Westminster eventually was able to rally to take a 27-21 halftime lead.
After Westminster scored the first four points to start the second half, LCSC scored the next 10 to tie it at 31. Westminster, however, responded with the next eight points and LCSC could get no closer than four points on three occasions, including the final buzzer when Allen drilled a 3-pointer for the final score.