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.