Westminster basketball: Griffin women host Montana Western in Friday’s semi-finals

By Josh Fisher

For the Deseret News

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 27 2013 2:11 p.m. MST

SALT LAKE CITY — The fifth-ranked Westminster College women’s basketball team opens the Frontier Conference Tournament on Friday when it hosts Montana Western in a semi-final game. The top-seeded Griffins earned a bye into the semis while the sixth-seeded Bulldogs upset the No. 3 seed Montana Tech on Tuesday night. Friday’s game in the Behnken Field House will tipoff at 7 p.m.

Friday’s semi-final will be carried live on the web on Griffins TV and in Utah on TV. The broadcast will begin with the pregame show at 6:50 p.m. and feature an interview with Griffins coach Shelley Jarrard. Live stats will also be available for the game with links for Griffins TV and live stats available in the calendar section of Westminster's website.

The 2013 Frontier Conference Tournament began on Tuesday with two quarterfinal games. Along with Montana Western pulling the 55-46 upset at Montana Tech, the No. 4 seed Montana State-Northern defeated No. 5 seed Rocky Mountain (Mont.), 76-57. Friday’s other semi-final game features MSU-Northern at the No. 2 seed Carroll in Helena, Mont., at 7 p.m. Complete tournament coverage is available online on the Westminster website.

Westminster begins the postseason after going 25-3 during the regular season. The Griffins won a fifth-straight Frontier Conference championship with a 14-1 mark in league play. The Griffins split the final two games of the season last week, falling at Carroll last Thursday before defeating Montana Tech in the season finals on Saturday.

The Griffins have gone 10-1 at home this season, including a current 10-game home winning streak. They were a perfect 8-0 at home in league play and are winners of 15 straight Frontier Conference home games dating back to last season. Westminster averaged 70.8 points per game in the Behnken Field House during the year while holding the opposition to 45.8 points per game.

Westminster is scoring 64.86 points per game to rank second in the Frontier Conference. They are first in the league in field goal percentage (43.6%), free throw percentage (73.9%) and place second in 3-point field goal percentage (34.2%). Westminster makes a Frontier-best 6.39 treys per game and ranks first in assists per game at 16.18 and assist-to-turnover ratio, 1.24, which is third in the NAIA.

On the defensive end, Westminster holds the opposition to 46.68 points per game and just 34 percent shooting. The Griffins rank second in the country in scoring defense and eighth in field goal defense. They allow just 30.43 rebounds per game to the opposition, which is second in the country, while also forcing 17.14 turnovers per outing. The Griffins record 9.86 steals per game to lead the Frontier and rank 16th in the NAIA with a 3.86 turnover margin.

Despite sweeping the two games with Montana Western this season, Westminster still trails the overall series 15-14. The Griffins won the game in Salt Lake City, 73-35, on Dec. 1, before taking a 45-28 win in Dillon on Feb. 2. Westminster has won 12 straight games over UMW and seven straight at home.

Friday will mark the second meeting between the Griffins and Bulldogs in the Frontier Conference Tournament. Westminster claimed an 85-55 win in the semi-finals of the 2009 tournament in the Behnken Field House.

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