SALT LAKE CITY – The Westminster College men’s basketball team couldn’t overcome a tough shooting night and fell to Azusa Pacific (Calif.), 81-68, in the home opener Friday night at the Westminster Tipoff Classic.
Westminster (2-1) fell behind 13-3 in the opening 6:05 of the contest as it shot just 1-of-10 from the floor and committed four turnovers. After eight straight points from Jordan Pryor, including a pair of threes, cut the deficit to 20-15 at the 10:16 mark of the half, Azusa Pacific used a 17-2 run to open up a 20-point lead that it never relinquished en route to a 45-32 halftime advantage.
The Griffins finished the half shooting 25.5 percent from the floor, but they were able to stay within striking distance behind a 6-of-11 effort from beyond the arc. Pryor finished the half with 11 points and three triples, while also picking up three assists and two steals.
“I thought it was great the way our guys continued to compete in the second half,” head coach Adam Hiatt said of his team’s performance. “The game never got out of hand and we were always in striking distance.”
In the second half, Westminster mad a few runs and at one point it was back within 11 at 60-49, but Azusa Pacific was able to answer every Griffin run with one of their own to secure the road victory. Westminster played the game even at 36-36 in the second half despite shooting 32.4 percent from the floor and only making 1-of-10 from beyond the arc.
Pryor finished the game with 16 points to lead the Griffins. He made 4-of-8 from deep with a career-high seven rebounds. The sophomore also set career highs with four assists and three steals in another career-best 27 minutes off the bench.
“I thought Pryor was terrific,” Hiatt said of the sophomore guard. “He is playing with a lot of confidence and he is going to be good for us this season."
Westminster finished the night shooting 33.8 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from three. The team used 20 offensive rebounds to score 18 second-chance points and had a 46-44 advantage on the boards overall. The Griffins limited APU to 43.3 percent shooting and forced 17 turnovers, which resulted in 14 Griffin points.
Tallon Robertson scored 14 points in the game while also grabbing five rebounds, four blocked shots and three steals. Colton Moon and Blake Skidmore added 10 points apiece.
Azusa Pacific, which counted this game as an exhibition, got 17 points from Troy Leaf to go with his three assists. LyDell Cardwell scored 15 points off the bench, while Tyler Monroe added 11 points and five blocks.
The Westminster Tipoff Classic continues Saturday with Azusa Pacific facing Montana Western at 5 p.m. MDT, and then the Griffins play host to Western State Colorado at 7 p.m. MDT.