Second Half Offensive Slump Ends Blue Jays Season In SLIAC Quarterfinals

Second Half Offensive Slump Ends Blue Jays Season In SLIAC Quarterfinals

Fulton, MO, 2/22/2022 – The Westminster Blue Jays men's basketball team came into the first round of the SLIAC Tournament having won four of their last five games that propelled them from sixth place up into fourth place. That finish earned them a home game in their quarterfinal matchup with the fifth seeded Webster University Gorloks. Things looked good in the first half for the Blue Jays as they shot 55% from the field and held a 43-39 lead at the half.  The Jays stretched the lead to 53-46 with just over 15 minutes left in the game. Unfortunately for the Blue Jays, they would score just 13 points in the last 15 minutes and had their season ended 80-66 at the hands of the Gorloks.

The game started fast for the Blue Jays as a Landon Harrison (Jefferson City, MO / Helias) jumper and a three pointer by Jaxon Althaus (Oak Grove, MO / Oak Grove) staked them to a 5-0 lead.  The Gorloks would respond and the teams would spend the entire half going back and forth.  Late in the first half the Blue Jays trailed 35-28 with 4:32 to go before halftime.  Back to back buckets by Makygh Galbreath (Fulton, MO / Fulton) followed by a fade away jumper and a three pointer by senior Ethan Thompson (Columbia, MO / Hallsville) sparked a 9-2 run that tied the game at 37-37. A Tre Kempker power move with 1:10 to go in the half gave the Jays a 41-39 lead and a Harrison fadeaway just before the half gave the Jays a 43-39 lead going into halftime.

The second half saw the Blue Jays come out swinging and extended their lead to 53-46 on an Emil Spriggs (Kansas City, MO / Lees Summit North) three pointer and a Kempker basket and one.  A Thompson made jumper made it 55-51 for the Blue Jays with 13:51 left in the game and that is where the offense broke down for the Jays.  Westminster would go scoreless for the next 7:29 of the game.  When the dust settled it saw the Gorloks go on a 12-0 run during the time to take a lead of 63-55 with six minutes remaining in the game.  The Blue Jays attempted one last run to try to get back in it as a Galbreath steal and lay in made the score 72-66 with 3:37 left in the game.  The Gorloks would make free throws down the stretch and hold off the Blue Jays 80-66 to end Westminster's season.

Kempker led the Blue Jays with 15 points followed in double figures by Harrison with 13 points.  Devonte Hubbard (Lees Summit, MO / Grandview Christian) pulled down eight rebounds to lead the Blue Jays. Harrison led the team with six assists and three steals.

The game marked the final game for Head Coach Matt Mitchell's storied Westminster College coaching career.  He heads into retirement from coaching after 24 years and 301 career victories.  Thank you, Coach Mitchell, for all of your hard work and dedication to Westminster College and its students.