On Thursday night, No.1 seed Spalding defeated No.4 seed Westminster College 64-54 in a semifinal matchup of the 2013-2014 SLIAC Basketball tournament. This was the third meeting for the two teams this season and the second game in five days at Derek Smith Gymnasium. Both contests were close but Spalding was able to edge out the Blue Jays of Westminster in each meeting; the semifinal matchup would be no different.
The game was close for the first 35 minutes of play but turnovers late in the game by Westminster turned into points for the Golden Eagles, who were able to grab the lead and maintain it for the final minutes of the game.
Forward William Barber led the Golden Eagles to victory with 14 points. Spalding teammate forward Domonique Sangester added 13 points and 7 rebounds while forward Quayshaun Hamilton finished with 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting.
Brandon Moore was the leading scorer for the Blue Jays scoring 15; Verdis Lee, Jr. added 12 points and two players, Jordan Jones and Joe James, ended with 11 points apiece for Westminster.
The first half of play was a defensive battle as neither team shot over 40% from the field. The Blue Jays ended the half shooting 9 of 24 (37.5%) while holding Spalding to shooting 9 of 30 (30%). While only shooting 30% from the field, Spalding made 10 of 11 shots from the line to take a 30-29 halftime lead.
Spalding forward William Barber led all scorers in the half with 13 points and Sangester was a spark off the bench for the Golden Eagles in the first half as he scored 9 points in 9 minutes and grabbed 6 rebounds.
The second half of play started much like the first, with the two teams matching each other basket for basket. With just under 16 minutes left in the game, Spalding began to pull away; an 8-0 run gave the Golden Eagles a 44-37 lead. The Blue Jays would score the next 5 points to cut Spalding’s lead to 44-42 with 12:14 remaining in the half. The next 7 minutes of the game, the two teams paced each other and with 5:38 left to play the score was tied at 52-52.
With 4:31 left in the game a layup by Spalding guard Thomas Blakemore sparked a Spalding 12-0 run. Hamilton, who finished the game with 12 points and 4 rebounds, scored 7 of the last 12 Spalding points including a dunk at the 3:17 minute mark. During Spalding’s game ending run, Westminster made two crucial turnovers in the final two minutes that only helped seal the victory for the Golden Eagles.
With the first double digit win over Westminster this season, SU advances to the finals to play Webster University for the 2013-2014 SLIAC Championship on Saturday, March 1 at 1:00 p.m. EST in DSG. Follow the link to WATCH LIVE.