Men’s Basketball Secures Conference Tournament Title, Headed Back to NCAA Tournament
The Blue Jays defeated conference tournament host Greenville 128-121 on Saturday to win their second consecutive SLIAC Tournament title. PHOTO COURTESY OF ST. LOUIS INTERCOLLEGIATE ATHLETIC CONFERENCE.
BY MADISON FELDEWERTH
After a long and arduous season, the Westminster men’s basketball team is headed to the NCAA Division III Basketball Tournament for the second consecutive season. The team went 17-8 during the regular season and added two more victories this weekend to clinch the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament title.
On Friday, Westminster, ranked number two, took on third-seeded Webster in the semi-final round. The two teams won a game apiece in their two meetings during the season.
Tanner Cochran, ’18, led the team with 25 points on Friday, 21 of which came from three-pointers. Sean O’Brien, ’18, and Collin Caywood, ’19, combined for 37 points. All 18 of Caywood’s points were of the three-point variety, as he went 6 for 9 from beyond the arc.
Guard Cody Shaw ’18 said: “It was a hard-fought game by both teams. We had to battle the whole game. Collin and Tanner each hit clutch threes throughout the game to keep us in it and helped to eventually pull away at the end.”
Westminster and Webster traded leads throughout the entire first half and went into halftime tied at 31. However, Westminster outscored Webster 44-30 during the second half, winning 75-61.
With this victory, Westminster played for the tournament championship against host team Greenville on Saturday.
When asked about the upcoming game Shaw said: “Greenville is a good team that plays at a very fast pace. We are going to have to stay under control and take care of the ball. Hopefully if we can do those things throughout the game, we can come out with the win.”
That is exactly what they did in the final game against Greenville to bring home a SLIAC Tournament championship. In a nail-biting game, the Blue Jays defeated Greenville 128-121.
Following the win, center Javier Martin Ortega ’17 said that he could not describe the feeling of winning back-to-back conference championships and that it was “incredible” to defeat the host team for this year’s conference win.
After claiming the tournament title, the Westminster men’s basketball team will be heading to the NCAA Division III basketball tournament for the second straight season. The Blue Jays lost to Augustana 105-52 in the first round of last year’s tournament. Westminster will play Hanover College (Indiana) at Hanover on March 3 at 6:30 p.m. CDT in the first round of this year’s tournament.