Despite DJ's performance, LC falls to Griffins
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah - Despite a spectacular second-half performance from junior guard David Johnson, the Lewis-Clark State College couldn't quite knock Westminster off of the Frontier Conference men's basketball perch on Saturday night.
Cutting a 21-point deficit to seven with a little more than three minutes remaining, the Warriors just couldn't complete the comeback and fell to the Griffins 82-70 in a battle of NAIA Top 25 teams.
Johnson, a 6-foot-5 native of Chicago, scored 30 of his season-high 34 points in the second half to help the Warriors put a scare into the Griffins when he scored to make it 68-61 with 3:29 remaining. Westminster, however, was able to hit some free throws down the stretch to hold on.
Westminster, the two-time defending regular-season FC champion and ranked No. 22 in the NAIA, was the preseason pick to win the title again. The Griffins won their first 11 games, but then went 3-4 over its next seven heading into Saturday night.
The Griffins, however, looked like their old selves against LCSC by rolling out to a 12-2 lead and not letting the Warriors get closer than 14-8 the rest of the way. Another big spurt made it 35-15 with 5:20 left in the first half before Westminster settled for a 40-22 halftime advantage.
Westminster, 15-4 overall and 3-2 in league play, kept rolling early in the second half and led by as much as 21 at 60-39 with 9:51 left before Johnson put the Warriors on his shoulders and led the comeback. Johnson scored LCSC's final 25 points in the last 7:35 of the game. His first basket during the run cut the lead to 62-45 and his final basket was on a dunk right before the final buzzer.
Johnson finished the game 14-of-20 from the field, including 3-of-5 at the 3-point line. He also was 3-of-4 at the foul line and added eight rebounds, seven steals, two assists, and one blocked shot. The previous high point total by a Warrior this season was 23 by Johnson against Lewis & Clark College.
For the game, the Griffins finished 29-of-51 from the field for 56.9 percent, but hit 16-of-25 shots in the opening half for 64 percent. LCSC was 26-of-66 for 39.4 percent and 7-of-19 from the 3-point line for 36.8 percent. LCSC held a 36-35 rebounding edge, but had 15 offensive boards.
Darin Stewart had eight points, all in the first half, for LCSC, while Jeray Key added seven points, all in the final 20 minutes. Ray Stout added seven rebounds.
Along with the loss, the Warriors suffered another blow in the game when forward Devon Adams suffered a knee injury in the first half and did not return. The extent of the injury is unknown, but Adams was on crutches following the game.
LCSC is now also 3-2 in league and 13-5 overall.
The Warriors wrap up the first half of conference play at home this week when they play host to Montana State-Northern on Thursday and Great Falls on Saturday. Both games are scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. at the LCSC Activity Center.