FULTON, Mo. – The Westminster men's basketball team pulled off an upset victory over the Greenville Panthers on Saturday afternoon. The Panthers entered the day atop the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and have the highest scoring offense in NCAA Division III. However, the Blue Jays stepped up to task and defeated the Panthers 131-126.
With the win the Blue Jays move to 7-9 overall and 6-4 in the SLIAC. The Panthers drop to third place in the conference with a 7-3 record (8-9 overall) while the Blue Jays sit just behind in fourth place.
The Panthers opened the game with a layup before a trey from Ethan Thompson and a jumper from Jaxon Althaus gave the Blue Jays a 5-2 lead. After the Panthers tied the game on a layup and free throw, Landon Harrison made a three to put the Blue Jays back on top 8-5. Greenville retook the lead with a pair of layups before Harrison briefly gave Westminster the lead with a layup of his own.
The Panthers made a layup to take back the lead and held it for the next 10 minutes of game play, leading by as many as 10 points until Althaus made a basket with six minutes left in the quarter to put Westminster up 48-47. After a layup from Thompson the Panthers tied the game at 50 Thompson stole the ball and dished out a pass to Althaus who dunked the ball to give the Blue Jays a 52-50 lead. The slam from Althaus proved to be the turning point of the half and it started a 27-9 run by the Blue Jays over the final five minutes of the half.
The Blue Jays continued to shoot the ball well in the opening minutes of the second half and extended their lead to 20 points with 15:52 to go. However, as teams around the SLIAC have come to know, it is hard to count out the fasted-paced high scoring Panther offense. Greenville was able to chip the lead down to just two points to make the game 119-117 with 2:46 to go. A three-point play from Makygh Galbreath and an Althaus layup gave the Blue Jays a 124-117 lead and some breathing room with just under two minutes left. The Panthers hung around time was not on their side and they had to foul in the minute to prevent the Blue Jays from running out the clock. Westminster converted five of six free throws close out the game and upset the Panthers 131-126.
Althaus (31 points, 12 rebounds) and Harrison (24 points, 14 rebounds) both notched double-doubles while Thompson added 30 points, eight assists and three steals.
Emil Spriggs set new career-highs with 19 points and seven assists and Galbreath added 14 points.
The Blue Jays will look to build off today's win on Wednesday night when they travel to face Iowa Wesleyan.