JACKSONVILLE, Ill. - Westminster men's basketball narrowly falls to MacMurray, 101-93, in the team's final road contest.
The Blue Jays fall to 14-10 overall and 10-7 in the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, locked in a battle with Webster and Blackburn to earn a spot in the SLIAC Tournament.
"This was another crazy conference road game," said Westminster Head Coach Matt Mitchell. "MacMurray played very well tonight and outworked us in the first half, including 10 offensive rebounds that really hurt us."
Westminster got out to a slow offensive start, struggling to score until the 17:38 mark after falling 6-0 to the Highlanders in the opening minutes. Stu Hollandsworth kept the Blue Jays in the game early, scoring six of the team's eight points.
The Blue Jays stayed in the game until the 11:05 mark of the first half when MacMurray took its first double-digit lead of the game while Westminster was still trying to find its offensive rhythm. Back-to-back three-pointers from Cody Shaw put Westminster back in the game, and Stu Hollandsworth followed that up with two layups to put the deficit back to just four points.
A Kobe Wands layup with 5:31 to play in the half tied the game for the first time at 29 points apiece. The Highlanders went on a small 6-0 to regain the lead and Westminster could not come back in the first half, finishing out the first 20 minutes down 43-38.
After a Carter Wands layup to open the second half, the Highlanders went on a 12-0 by hitting four straight three-pointers, forcing a Westminster timeout to stop the MacMurray momentum. Westminster responded with a 9-0 run of their own on five points from K. Wands, making the score 55-49 with 15:35 to play.
Westminster again fell behind by double-digits after hot Highlander shooting, but back-to-back layups from K. Wands and Shaw put Westminster down by just nine points with plenty of time to regain the lead.
An 8-0 Blue Jay run, including seven points from the Wands brothers, put Westminster back in a one-possession game at 72-69, but MacMurray hit five quick points to again stretch their lead to double digits with 5:33 to play.
Back-to-back three-pointers from Collin Caywood and K. Wands along with a jump shots from both Wands and Caywood gave Westminster hope down the stretch, behind just 88-84 with just under four minutes remaining in the game. MacMurray hit freethrows down the stretch to just barely keep their lead, but Tanner Cochran hit a key jump shot with 1:54 to play to put Westminster down 95-90. Six straight freethrows from the Highlanders secured their victory despite the Blue Jay press late in the game.
"The score doesn't reflect how hard we worked to get back into the game," said Mitchell. "We were down 16 at one point so we were forced to press and gamble a little bit more than we like to. We had a big steal late and had a chance to cut the lead to two, but couldn't convert."
Kobe Wands led all scorers with 32 points on 13-29 shooting. Hollandsworth added 20 points and eight rebounds. Caywood posted 14 points while Shaw added 13 from the bench.