FULTON, Mo. Westminster men's basketball took a break from conference play with a non-conference match-up Monday against Buena Vista, falling 80-73 in a shootout battle, with a combined 52 three-point attempts.
"I think we are really coming together as a team, despite today's loss," said Westminster Head Coach Matt Mitchell. "It makes me excited leading into the second half of the season."
The opening minutes featured a back-and-forth battle and an 11-point effort from Romo Tabb, scoring the team's first 11 points. At the 13:11 mark, both teams were tied up with 11 each thanks to Tabb's contribution. Hayden Drace became the second Blue Jay to score, taking the lead with a three-pointer at the 12:43 mark to go up 14-11, but the Beavers hit a three in response to keep the game tied.
Steven Brandt hit a three-pointer to take back the lead, but Buena Vista kept knocking down shots, going on an 8-0 run to claim the biggest lead of the game at 26-19 with under seven minutes to play in the half. Westminster answered with a 6-0 run on a three from Collin Caywood and Kobe Wands hitting three freethrows after he was fouled behind the arc, coming back within one point of the lead.
Buena Vista then went on a 13-2 run which included three three-pointers to take the largest lead of the game at 39-27, but Westminster was able to hang around on back-to-back three-pointers from Caywood to come back within single digits, closing out the half with Westminster facing a 39-33 deficit.
After a Tabb tip-in to start the second half, the Beavers took a 7-0 run to increase their lead back to double-digits. A 7-0 Blue Jay run starting just below the 15 minute mark of the half put Westminster back within three points, thanks to a layup from Jak Kitchens and five points from K. Wands.
The Beavers kept hitting shots in an attempt to pull away with the lead, but Westminster kept answering, including three straight three-pointers from Nolan Huot to make the score 58-53 in favor of the Beavers with 9:43 to play. The Blue Jays struggled to get over the four-point deficit until an emphatic dunk from the baseline from Tabb, who helped pull the squad within three points of the lead, followed by a Caywood freethrow to make the score 68-66 with just under five minutes to play.
Westminster traded baskets with Buena Vista in the following four possessions to make the score 72-70 with two minutes to play. After the Beavers scored a layup to go up four points, Caywood came down on the other end and hit a three-pointer to pull within one point of the lead with 1:45 to play.
The Blue Jays were unable to score in the final 1:45 while Buena Vista went on a 6-0 run to secure the 80-73 victory.
"Both teams were searching for key shots down the stretch, and unfortunately for us, we missed a couple of key shots that could have changed the outcome," said Mitchell. "Buena Vista plays a small lineup and we struggled to find a lineup that could stop their penetration."
Tabb led all scorers with 21 points, going 8-18 from the field and adding nine rebounds. K. Wands added 14 while Caywood, going 4-6 from behind the arc, added 13.
Westminster takes a two-week holiday break, returning home for a New Year's Eve match-up against Washington University. Tipoff is set for 1 p.m.