SALT LAKE CITY -- Playing Warner Pacific for the second time in a week made for a tough night for the 12th-ranked Westminster men's basketball team. After taking an 82-75 win over the Knights last Friday, Westminster (7-0) edged out a 77-76 win at the Behnken Field House tonight at the Westminster Thanksgiving Classic.
Jordan Bjornberg made 1-of-2 free throws with 30.7 second reaming on the clock to give the Griffins a 77-76 advantage. WPC (4-3) couldn't get into any offense and had to settle for a fall-away jumper from 17 feet from Webster Moreland that came up short. Bjornberg corralled the rebound and sealed the Griffins seventh consecutive victory.
"I'm just glad Jordan (Bjornberg) made one of those free throws," head coach Tommy Connor said after the game.
It looked like the game was going to be much different than last week's meeting as the Griffins jumped out to a 30-15 advantage with 8:18 remaining in the opening half. Warner Pacific had other things in mind however, as they finished the half on a 19-6 run and trailed just 36-34 at the intermission.
The Griffin lead would reach seven twice in the second stanza including a 76-69 advantage with 2:49 remaining. Warner Pacific would score the game's next seven points and had a chance at the lead with 31.2 seconds reaming when Biniam Tadele missed the second of two free throws. Bjornberg grabbed the rebound and was fouled, sending him to the line for the decisive freebie.
"I didn't think we played that well," Connor stated. "I was happy our bench guys gave us some effort and it's good win but, I am very disappointed with our effort."
Westminster went the final 5:10 of the game without making a field goal, but they sealed the victory by making 9-of-10 at the charity stripe during that stretch. Westminster finished the night 18-of-23 (78.3%) from the foul line.
As a team, Westminster shot 49% from the field and continued to shoot it well from beyond the arc making 9-of-18. The Griffins are now 15-of-29 (51.7%) on three-point attempts in the last two games.
Michael Stockton led the Griffins with 23 points while grabbing seven rebounds. He scored 15 of those points in the first half and also finished the game with three assists and three steals.
Adam Rainbird scored 16 points off the bench to help the Griffins to a 27-24 advantage in bench scoring. Rainbird went 5-of-5 from the floor and was a perfect 4-of-4 from beyond the arc. He scored 11 straight Westminster points during a stretch in the second half, including a three from the corner on three consecutive possessions.
Tanner Gregory added 12 points and seven rebounds while Jake Orchard added nine points. Westminster forced 20 Warner Pacific turnovers and turned them into 17 points.
Warner Pacific had five players score in double figures led by 16 points apiece for Diego Herrejon and Tadele. Andre Davis added 15 points with Nick Schultens and Moreland scoring 11 and 10 respectively. The Knights outrebounded the Griffins 35-27 and scored 23 points off 16 offensive rebounds. They also had a 38-26 advantage in the paint.
Westminster will complete the Thanksgiving Classic with a 7:30 p.m. game against Colorado Christian on Saturday in the Behnken Field House.