AZUSA, Calif. -- When Geoff Payne was looking to leave Southern Utah University last spring his final schools to which he would transfer came down to Azusa Pacific University and Westminster College.
Oh, the big one that got away.
Payne made 15-of-19 shots and scored a game-high 34 points to lead the NAIA’s No. 13-ranked Westminster to an 83-69 victory over No. 17 Azusa Pacific in the Behnken Field House in Salt Lake City Saturday night.
Payne scored 20 second-half points and single-handedly kept Azusa Pacific at bay over the final 20 minutes of play, never letting the Cougars get any closer than 11 with less than 4 minutes remaining in the contest. Danny Stosich added 12 points for the Griffins on a perfect 5-for-5 effort from the floor. He scored 6 points during the Griffins’ 16-5 run to close the first half that gave Westminster a 43-32 lead at the break.
Then behind Payne’s play in the paint, Westminster pushed its lead to as much as 18 on several occasions in the second half before settling for a 14-point decision, the Griffins’ largest margin of victory over the Cougars in 4 meetings.
For the second night in a row Azusa Pacific was paced by junior guard Dominque Johnson who scored 17 points, including 12 in the second half. Junior guard Mike Danielian added 11 points, 8 of which came at the free throw line, while Brayden Bell added 10 points and 5 rebounds off the bench in his homecoming to Salt Lake City.
With the win Westminster improves to 4-0 while Azusa Pacific falls to 1-1.