St. Louis, MO, 11/12/21 – The Westminster College men's basketball team was coming off of back to back gut-wrenching heartbreaking losses to start their season and looking to change their luck. They traveled to St. Louis to compete in the ARC – SLIAC Challenge taking on the Buena Vista University Beavers out of the American Rivers Conference in Iowa. Fortunately, the Blue Jays took their defensive A game with them to St. Louis. A stingy defense and a balanced offensive attack led to a 70-67 victory over the highly regarded Beavers. The Beavers were receiving votes in the latest Division III D3Hoops.com Top 25 poll.
The game got off to a sloppy start as both teams traded missed shots and turnovers. Tied at 4-4 five minutes into the game Landon Harrison (Jefferson City, MO / Helias) would break down the Beaver defense to finish at the rim. After a defensive stop it would be Tre Kempker (Eugene, MO / Eugene) who would stick a 15-foot jumper from the left side to give the Blue Jays a 8-4 lead. The first half went back and forth with neither team leading by more than four points until back to back three-point shots by Coby Williams (Versailles, Mo. / Morgan County R-2) and Ethan Thompson (Columbia, MO / Hallsville) would open up a 31-22 lead for the Blue Jays with 1:45 to play in the half. Thompson would send the Blue Jays to the half on a high as he would bury a deep three at the first half buzzer and the Jays would lead 36-29.
The second half saw a Kempker layup off of a Harrison assist give the Jays their biggest lead of the game at 40-29. The Beavers would then go on a 14-5 run to cut the Blue Jays lead down to just two points at 45-43 with 14:01 left. Freshman Ben Eberlin (Hardin, IL / Calhoun) would hit a three as the shot clock wound down off of a Harrison assist to push the Jays lead to 48-43. The Beavers offense would pick up and on a three pointer by Jacob Gaudreau three pointer would take their biggest lead of the game with 9:26 left in the game. The Beavers would still lead 59-57 with 4:16 left in the game Harrison would be fouled on a layup attempt and he would make the two free throws to tie the game at 59-59. After a Blue Jay stop and rebound senior Jaxon Althaus (Oak Grove, MO / Oak Grove) would give the Jays the lead on a driving finish around the Beaver big men. The Beavers would tie it for a final time at 61-61. Two Emil Spriggs (Kansas City, MO / Lees Summit North) free throws would give the Blue Jays a lead they would not give back. Spriggs would make seven out of eight free throws in the last two minutes of the game to help secure the 70-67 Blue Jay victory.
The Blue Jays were led by Spriggs, Harrison and Kempker who each finished with a team high 13 points. Kempker and Spriggs each tallied a team high nine rebounds that led the Blue Jays to a 42-33 edge on the boards. Althaus would lead the Jays in assists with five followed by Harrison with four. Cade Combs (Harrisburg, MO / Harrisburg) and Makygh Galbreath (Fulton, MO / Fulton) each had two steals to lead the team.
The Blue Jays will be back in action tomorrow as they will complete play in the ARC – SLIAC Challenge when they will take on the Simpson College Storm. The game is scheduled for a 1:00 p.m. tip off.