Westminster hits free throws to down Warriors 95-81
LEWISTON, Idaho - Hitting 36-of-42 free-throw attempts, including 28-of-31 in the second half, helped No. 22-ranked Westminster defeat Lewis-Clark State College 95-81 in a Frontier Conference contest at the LCSC Activity Center on Saturday night.
The win helped Westminster to its ninth straight 20-plus win season as the Griffins improved to 20-6 overall. Westminster also moved into a four-way tie for the top spot in the conference at 8-4 with Carroll, Montana State-Northern, and Montana Western.
The loss dropped LCSC to 15-10 overall and 5-7 in conference plays, and also guarantees the Warriors will be on the road for the first round of the conference tournament. LCSC can finish no better than fifth in the regular-season conference standings and only the top four teams play home games in the opening round of the tournament on March 2.
The contest was a disappointing one for LCSC. Despite a solid offensive game that saw the Warriors even shoot 65.5 percent from the field in the second half, they couldn't stop Westminster. LCSC is one of the top defensive teams in the conference but Westminster was able to shoot 56.5 percent from the field, 58.3 percent at the 3-point line, and then 85.7 percent at the foul line.
The 95 points is the most a Warrior team has allowed since the 2007-08 season when Fort Lewis College put a 98-64 loss on LCSC.
"They (the Griffins) played exceptionally well," LCSC coach Tim Walker said. "And we had far too many turnovers, especially in the first half."
Westminster took control of the game in the first half with an 11-0 run, thanks to three 3-pointers. That put the Griffins ahead 22-10.
The Warriors cut the margin to six three times, but each time Westminster had an answer. The Griffins show 61.5 percent from the field in the opening half and made all six 3-pointers they attempted for a 46-36 halftime lead.
LCSC was able to get the ball inside in the second half and hit 19-of-29 shots from the field. That helped the Warriors cut the margin to six twice early in the half, but LCSC was whistled for an intention foul that turned into a four-point swing. That keyed a 12-4 run to put Westminster up 60-46 and the Warriors were unable to get closer than 11 the rest of the way.
LCSC had four players score in double figures. Darin Stewart led the way with 14 points, while Alex King and David Johnson had 13 each. Donnie Lao finished with 12.
AJ Reilly led Westminster with 26 points, while Michael Stockton, the son of former Gonzaga and Utah Jazz great John Stockton, finished with 25.
The Warriors close out the regular season next week on the road. On Friday, LCSC is at Great Falls at 6:30 p.m., and then on Saturday, LCSC is in Havre, Mont., to face Montana State-Northern at 7 p.m.