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Westminster survives in overtime 79-71

Westminster survives in overtime 79-71

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SALT LAKE CITY -- The 12th-ranked Westminster men's basketball team learned on Friday night that the first game of the season is never easy. Westminster was pushed to overtime by San Diego Christian at the Westminster Tipoff Classic presented by Sports Med Utah before pulling out a 79-71 overtime victory. Westminster won the extra five minutes 15-7 to start 1-0 this season after trailing 32-24 at halftime.

"It was a really horrendous first half for us offensively," head coach Tommy Connor said. "The guys responded better in the second half."

The Griffins led by 11 with 4:38 remaining in regulation, only to see San Diego Christian (0-1) use a 14-3 run to force overtime. The visiting Hawks got a three from the corner by Aaron Felix with 43 seconds reaming to cut the lead to three. Then after a Tanner Gregory missed jumper, Tim Sanders hit a 30-foot three with a hand in his face as time expired to force the extra period.

"You can't do much about the end of the game," Connor commented. "Sometimes I do foul in that situation but, the guy hit an unbelievable shot."

In the overtime, Westminster six of the first seven points and never looked back. SDC would get within in three with 55 seconds remaining but never scored again while Michael Stockton sealed the win with two free throws.

Westminster shot 40.7% from the floor and grabbed 43 rebounds, including 12 offensive that resulted in 14 second chance points. They also dominated in the paint with a 34-14 advantage while scoring 14 points off 10 SDC turnovers. The Griffins committed just six turnovers in the game and only two after halftime while recording 14 assists.

Jordan Bjornberg and Tanner Gregory each posted a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Jake Orchard scored 14 points in his Westminster debut on 5 of 7 shooting with three assists and four rebounds. Stockton added 14 points, seven assists and zero turnovers. Adam Rainbird scored 11 points off the bench.

"Stockton's tempo wasn't very good in the first half," Connor said of his senior guard. "He was much better in the second half and seven assists and zero turnovers was great."

Felix led San Diego Christian with 20 points while making four from beyond the arc. The Hawks shot 13 of 21 (61.9%) from three-point territory and just 10 of 31 (32.3%).

Westminster will wrap-up the Tipoff Classic with a 7:30 p.m. game against Olivet Nazarene on Saturday in the Behnken Field House.

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