GALESBURG, Ill. - Westminster men's basketball returned from the Thanksgiving break by defeating Knox 85-74.
The Blue Jays improve to 2-1 with the win.
"We struggled today," said Westminster Head Coach Matt Mitchell. "Our kids battled through a tough shooting day, but still pulled out a win. That's always positive seeing that type of resilience this early in the season from our guys."
In the opening minutes of the game, both teams struggled to score until Carter Wands hit the first points of the game with two made freethrows at the 17:44 mark.
Back-to-back three-pointers from Cody Shaw and Steven Brandt put Westminster up 8-4, but another long scoring drought by the Blue Jays that lasted over three minutes allowed the Prairie Fire to come back in the game. Stu Hollandsworth ended the drought on two made freethrows and went up 10-9 with 10 minutes remaining in the half.
After three ties anad three lead changes in the final minutes of the first half, back-to-back buckets from behind the arc from Kobe Wands and Hayden Drace ended the firt half with Westminster on top 32-29.
The Blue Jays held their lead for the first five minutes of the half, until Knox hit a shot to go back on top 42-40 at the 14:47 mark of the second half.
The next two minutes resulted in both teams trading buckets for two ties and four lead changes, thanks to made jump shots from the Wands brothers and Hollandsworth.
Knox took a six-point lead with 10 minutes left, their largest lead of the game. A 13-3 run started by a made three-pointer from Casey McCollum and six points from Brandt gave Westminster the advantage 61-57 with five minutes to play.
Hollandsworth and Brandt scored seven straight points for the Blue Jays to go up by seven with four minutes remaining, holding on to their solid lead.
Shaw hit a jumpshot and two freethrows to give Westminster its first double-digit lead of the game. In the final minute of the game, Westminster hit eight freethrows to hold the lead and take the win.
K. Wands led all scorers with 17 points, going 6-14 from the field. Hollandsworth and Brandt each added 16.
"This is a good building block for tomorrow," said Mitchell.
Westminster travels to Monmouth Sunday for a 1 p.m. tipoff.