Blue Jays Stay Hot Upend SLIAC Champs On The Road

Photo by Tyler Oberlag.
Photo by Tyler Oberlag.

St. Louis, MO, 2/19/2022 – The Westminster College Blue Jays men's basketball team, winners of three of their last four games, travelled to St. Louis Saturday afternoon to take on the newly crowned SLIAC regular season champion Fontbonne University Griffins. The Blue Jays got great contributions from the entire team on the way to shooting 54% in the second half and 48.7% from the field overall and delivering a big 79-69 road victory heading into the SLIAC Tournament.  It also kept alive the chance for a fourth-place finish and the quarterfinal home game that comes with it.  Spalding will play at Fontbonne Sunday at 3:00 p.m.  A Fontbonne win over Spalding would mean that Westminster would get the fourth seed in the SLIAC Tournament and a home game Tuesday night.

Fontbonne was ready to go from the tip.  It was Senior Day for the Griffins, and they rode the emotions of the day to a quick start.  They would build an eight-point lead at 22-14 with 9:32 to play in the first half.  The Blue Jays would begin to mount their comeback.  Back-to-Back threes by Jaxon Althaus (Oak Grove, MO / Oak Grove) and a mid-range jumper cut the Fontbonne lead down to 24-22 with 8:32 to go before half.  Later a free throw by Devonte Hubbard (Lees Summit, MO / Grandview) and a three pointer by Landon Harrison (Jefferson City, MO / Helias) off of a nice assist by Tre Kempker (Eugene, MO / Eugene) gave the Blue Jays their first lead of the game at 30-26.  That capped a 16-4 run by the Jays. T

The Griffins would respond with a run of their own going on a 11-2 run to take the lead back at 37-32 with 2:39 remaining.  A Ben Eberlin (Hardin, IL / Calhoun) seal and layup off of a great Makygh Galbreath (Fulton, MO / Fulton) pass and a clutch three by Althaus kept the Jays within striking distance as they would trail the Griffins 41-37 at halftime. 

The second half saw a back-and-forth affair through the first ten minutes as both teams made runs.  With 10:30 left in the game and the score tied at 56 all, Hubbard would find Ethan Thompson (Columbia, MO / Hallsville) who hit his 150th career three point shot to give the Blue Jays the lead 59-56.  It was a lead they would never give back.  Every time the Griffins would make a run the Jays would answer after the Griffins cut it to 61-60 Althaus would knock down back-to-back threes to give the Jays breathing room at 67-60.  The Griffins would cut the lead to 69-65 with 4:08 to play Althaus had the answer again to make it 71-67.  Fontbonne refused to go away and a Kempker finish with 1:08 to play gave the Blue Jays a 73-67 lead.  The Blue Jays would then go 6-6 from the free throw line down the stretch to seal the 79-69 win.  The win improves the Blue Jays to 10-15 overall and 6-8 in the SLIAC. 

Althaus led the way with 25 points. Harrison was close behind with 21 points, Kempker contributed 11 points and the freshman post player Eberlin came through with his first double figure scoring game of his career with 10 points on 5-6 shooting from the field.  Harrison led the Jays on the boards with eight rebounds followed by senior Emil Spriggs (Kansas City, MO / Lees Summit North) with seven tough rebounds.  Harrison, Althaus and Galbreath each dished out four assists. 

The Blue Jays now await their fate.  The Spalding at Fontbonne game is scheduled for a 3:00 p.m. tip off Sunday afternoon in St. Louis.  A Fontbonne win would mean a 7:00 p.m. tip off for the Blue Jays in Historic Gym on Tuesday night and a Fontbonne loss would mean, well let's not think about that just yet.

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