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Westminster basketball: Griffin men fall to No. 15 Montana Western, 75-64

Westminster's Nick Jenson goes up for the layup. Jenson had 12 points and five rebounds in a 75-64 loss to No. 15 Montana Western on Saturday evening at the Behnken Field House.
Westminster's Nick Jenson goes up for the layup. Jenson had 12 points and five rebounds in a 75-64 loss to No. 15 Montana Western on Saturday evening at the Behnken Field House.
Bob McLellan

The No. 4 Westminster men’s basketball team struggled in the first half and lost to No. 15 Montana Western in a Frontier Conference game at the Behnken Field House on Saturday evening.

Westminster (10-13, 3-7 Frontier) made just eight baskets in the first half and finished the period shooting 27.6 percent from the field. At the other end, Montana Western (19-6, 7-3) shot 44.4 percent with seven threes to lead 44-27 at intermission.

“We got shots at the rim and we got the shots that we prepared for, but for some reason they didn’t go in,” Westminster head coach Adam Hiatt said of the team’s first half struggles.

After a Trevor Bamgartner three and a Kenny Woodard jumper, Westminster held a 15-14 lead just more than seven minutes into the action. Western then scored the game’s next 11 points and never trailed again. The Bulldogs closed the half with a 30-12 spurt during the final 12:40 that saw them overcome eight turnovers by shooting 9-of-18 form the field.

A three-point-play from Dexter Williams, Jr. opened the second half, and UMW had its largest lead of the game, 47-27. The Griffins got eight points, including back-to-back threes, from Jordan Pryor as they mounted a 10-0 run in the next 2:09. Woodard then connected on a pair of triples two minutes later to get the Griffins back within 52-43 with 15:31 remaining.

Western responded with a 9-0 run that was capped by a three from Ryan McCarty to make it 61-43 with 12:30 to play. The lead stayed in double figures until a Nick Jenson layup with 1:01 left cut the deficit to 72-63. UMW made three of its four attempts at the foul line in the final minute to secure the win.

The Griffins shot 48.1 percent in the second half and finished the game shooting at a 37.5 percent clip. They finished with 10 threes on 24 attempts (41.7 percent), while scoring 10 points from nine offensive rebounds. UMW shot 44.7 percent in the game and overcame 20 turnovers by making 24-of-27 (88.9 percent) at the foul line.

Pryor finished with a team-high 17 points for the Griffins. He overcame a 1-of-9 first half by making five of his eight shots in the second half. The junior also grabbed a team-best six rebounds with four assists and three steals. Jenson added 12 points and five rebounds — three offensive — after going 5-of-7 from the field. Colton Moon posted four assists and two steals to move within seven of tying the school’s all-time record of 164.

Williams, Jr. finished the night with 25 points on 7-of-11 shooting. He scored 18 points in the first half and was a perfect 10-of-10 at the foul line in the game while grabbing 10 rebounds.

Westminster continues this three-game home stand Thursday when it welcomes Great Falls to the Behnken Field House. The action begins at 7:30 p.m. MT.