Friday, March 19, 2010

GO GRIFFINS! Griffin Updates from Nationals

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – No. 4 seed Westminster College (Utah) battled its way to an 80-74 victory Thursday against Evangel University (Mo.) in the first round of the 2010 Buffalo Funds-NAIA Division I Men’s Basketball National Championship at Municipal Auditorium.Junior forward Ben Walker paced the Griffins with 21 points, seven rebounds and three blocked shots in the contest. Senior forward Weston Anderson contributed 17 points, five rebounds and a team-leading five assists, while junior guard Michael Stockton came off the bench to add 15 points and five assists for Westminster. Senior forward Blair Prowse registered 10 points for the Griffins, who shot nearly 61 percent from the field in the second half (14-of-23) to post the victory.Westminster now moves into the second round of tournament action on Friday at 2:15 p.m. CT. The Griffins will meet No. 13 seed Azusa Pacific University (Calif.).“I was really proud of our guys today,” said Westminster head coach Tommy Connor. “When we got down (in the second half) things weren’t going our way and we battled back. It showed a lot of courage. We haven’t played from behind much this year so that was good for our guys.”The game featured eight ties and 10 lead changes. The final deadlock came at 61-61 when Evangel junior forward Johnathan Huskisson drilled a three-pointer with 4:12 to play. Westminster responded by scoring the next seven points to regain a 68-61 advantage with just under three minutes left. Evangel tried to rally down the stretch, but would only get as close as 73-69 after Huskisson hit the last of his five three-pointers on the afternoon with 46 seconds remaining.Westminster was able to hold off the Crusaders from the free throw line in the closing seconds, hitting six attempts from the stripe in the final 44 seconds.The teams played evenly in the first half. The largest lead for either squad was five points, and Evangel used a pair of baskets in the final minute of the period to tie the score at 30-30 heading into the locker room.Five different players reached the double-figure mark in the scoring column for Evangel, led by Huskisson with 22 points. He also had a game-high four steals along with seven rebounds. Sophomore guard Mitch McHenry and junior center Mike Storey each netted 12 points, while junior forward Chad Gillaspy posted a double-double of 11 points and a team-high 10 rebounds. Freshman guard Jayme Donnelly added 10 points for the Crusaders.Evangel wrapped up its 2009-10 season with an overall record of 20-13.NOTES: Westminster is making its 10th appearance overall at the tournament and with the win improves to 4-10 all-time in tournament play … Evangel is making its first appearance in the Division I tournament after participating in eight Division II tourneys …The win sends the Griffins to the second round for only the third time in school history … This was the first meeting between the two teams … Westminster’s Ben Walker finished the game with 21 points. He has now scored at least 10 points in 25 of 32 games this season … With his 10 rebounds Evangel’s Chad Gillaspy moved into 11th place on the school’s single-season rebound list … The Heart of America Athletic Conference is 0-2 in the 2010 tournament with one team (William Jewell College) still to play in the first round.