Blue Jays defeat Red Devils in double overtime to keep tournament hopes alive

Courtesy of Westminster Athletics. (Caleb Maassen/Courtesy)
Courtesy of Westminster Athletics. (Caleb Maassen/Courtesy)

EUREKA, Ill. -- Westminster College men's basketball was on the road Saturday afternoon to take on the Eureka College Red Devils.

Both teams came into the game on the bubble to make the conference tournament. The winner kept its postseason hopes alive, and the loser needed much help to make the tournament with two games remaining.

Neither team was ready to pack it up in a game that saw 38 ties, 32 lead changes and double overtime to determine a winner.

The Blue Jays could walk away with a 96-91 win when the dust settled. Westminster improved to 5-18 on the season and 5-11 in the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.

Eureka fell to 7-16 on the year and 5-11 in the SLIAC.

The game was tied 37-37 at halftime. At the end of regulation, the Red Devils were leading 76-74 with 30 seconds left, and the Blue Jays had possession of the ball.

Jack Fessenden shot a 3 with 15 seconds left on the clock and missed it. Westminster got three offensive rebounds and three putback attempts, none of which fell.

Then freshman Gavin Hendrix came up with the fourth offensive rebound tip-in at the buzzer to send the game to overtime.

Eureka opened the first overtime period with a 3-pointer to take a 79-76 lead. The Blue Jays tied the game but could not take the lead.

The Red Devils scored with 38 seconds left to go up 85-83. Westminster called timeout with 30 seconds left. After the timeout, senior Brennan Jeffries, who has hit big shots all season for the Blue Jays, came up clutch one more time, drilling a jumper to tie 85-85.

The Red Devils got two shots off at the end of the first overtime to win it, but neither shot fell.

In the second overtime, the Blue Jays took the lead 88-87 after freshman Walker Gohring put them up on top with 3:40 left.

Westminster got a stop, and then Gohring got fouled and sent to the free-throw line for two shots. He made both and extended the Blue Jay lead to 90-87.

Westminster got another defensive stop, forcing Eureka to turn the ball over. This led to a layup by Brennan Jeffries on the other end to make it 92-87 and a two-possession game with two minutes left on the clock.

The Red Devils made a 3-pointer to cut it to 92-90 and a minute and a half left. Jacob Becker made a layup to make it a four-point lead, 94-90.

The Red Devils got to the free-throw line and went one and one to make it 94-91. Brennan Jeffries was fouled on the next possession; he iced the game after making free throws and securing the 96-91 win for the Blue Jays.

Brennan Jeffries led the Blue Jays with 23 points, seven rebounds, six assists and two steals. He went 6-8 from the free-throw line.

Freshman Fessenden had 21 points, five rebounds and three steals. He made four 3s in the game. Fellow freshman Gohring had 17 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists for his fourth double-double.

Brysan Jeffries had 11 points, 10 rebounds and six assists.

The Blue Jays will return on Thursday when they take on Lyon College at home. The game is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m.