LINCOLN, Neb. - Jimmy Villalobos scored a career-high 36 points in the Westminster loss to Nebraska Wesleyan, 104-103.
Westminster falls to 2-2 to finish the nonconference season.
"The positive that we need to take from tonight is that we found out just how hard we have to play to stay in close games," said Westminster Head Coach Matt Mitchell. "We expect to be in close games night in and night out when we start league play, so this was a positive experience moving forward."
The Prairie Wolves jumped out to a 15-4 lead to start the first four minutes of the game. Westminster continued to struggle offensively, but Villalobos and Sean O'Brien held the team in the game. They were the only two Westminster players to score until a layup from Javier Martin Ortega with under 12 minutes to go in the half.
With 10 minutes left in the half, Nebraska Wesleyan took an 18 point lead. Westminster fought its way back to stay within striking distance, but the Blue Jays went into the half behind 54-42.
Villalobos hit a layup with 17 minutes to go in the game to start a 12-0 run, nine of those points scored by Villalobos, that would put Westminster back within two points.
The Prairie Wolves took another double-digit lead with eight minutes left in the game, but back-to-back three-pointers from Villalobos and O'Brien cut the lead back to six.
Villalobos scored 10 points in the last two minutes of the game to keep the Blue Jays in the game, but Nebraska Wesleyan continued to sink freethrows and maintain their lead. A three-pointer from Cody Shaw at the buzzer made the final score 104-103.
"We were pleased with the response our guys gave when being down by as much as 22 points in the first half," said Mitchell. "We defended, matched NWU's intensity, and converted offensively."
After the 36 points from Villalobos, Romo Tabb tallied a double double with 16 points and 12 rebounds, including five offensive. O'Brien added 18 points while Shaw recorded 11 from the bench.
"Jimmy was obviously a big part of the game tonight, but credit also goes to the others who recognized Jimmy was hot," said Mitchell. "It was a full team effort to get back into the game defensively. We are very encouraged entering league play Wednesday."
Westminster ends the nonconference season and opens up SLIAC play Wednesday at home against Fontbonne. The tip is set for 8 p.m.