Blue Jays NCAA Tournament Bound With SLIAC Tournament Win

Blue Jays NCAA Tournament Bound With SLIAC Tournament Win


FULTON, Mo. - Westminster men's basketball advances to the NCAA Tournament with its fifth-ever SLIAC Tournament title in a 128-121 win over Greenville. 

The 128-point total for the Blue Jays ties the highest ever for a single game in program history, dating back to the 1919-20 season when Westminster tallied 128 points over Missouri Wesleyan. 

"I'm proud of the guys," said Westminster Head Coach Matt Mitchell. "We played through a lot of adversity, fatigue, injuries, and foul trouble."

The Blue Jays took an early lead after an opening 7-0 run in the opening minutes. Another 8-0 run led to a 21-9 lead for the Blue Jays with 14 minutes to play in the half. 

Westminster maintained its double-digit lead until the Panthers went on a 10-0 run that cut the Blue Jay lead to 40-36 with seven minutes left in the half. 

Romo Tabb scored the next 10 points for Westminster, but it wasn't enough for the Blue Jays to hold their lead. At the 3:00 minute mark, Greenville took the the lead at 53-52. 

Sean O'Brien went on to score 12 straight points for Westminster to tie the score a 64 going into the half. 

In the opening minutes of the second half, Greenville took a 77-70 lead. Jimmy Villalobos scored eight points to keep the Blue Jays in the game. Despite the Villalobos scoring effort, Wesmisnter was still down six points with 13 minutes to play. 

The Panthers maintained the lead until Carter Wands hit a freethrow with 6:10 left in the half. The Blue Jays held a single-digit lead for the remainder of the game while Cody Shaw and Villalobos hit freethrows down the stretch to seal the win for the Blue Jays. 

O'Brien led the team with 34 points on 17-21 from the field, the second-best individual scoring effort of the season behind his own 42-point game against the Panthers earlier this season. 

Villalobos scored a career-high 31 points on 8-12 from the field and 14-15 from the freethrow line.

Romo Tabb scored 20 points, while Stu Hollandsworth added 13 from the bench.

"Our guys kept their composure and continued to believe in each other," said Mitchell. "It's a great win for Blue Jay Nation!"

Tanner Cochran was named the SLIAC Tournament MVP after a 25-point effort in the semifinal against Webster. Sean O'Brien also was named to the All-Tournament team.  

Westminster faces Hanover College in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in Hanover, Indiana. They play Friday, March 3 at 6:30 p.m. CT/7:30 p.m. ET.