The Westminster men’s basketball team came back from an early deficit to force overtime and then claim a 76-70 win in overtime at Chadron State on Friday night.

Westminster (6-6, 6-4 RMAC) took its first lead of the game on the first possession of overtime as it won the extra five minutes, 8-2. The Griffins were able to force overtime when Mason Smith hit a three with 20 seconds to play in regulation to tie the game at 68-68.

“We started the night slow and definitely didn’t match their intensity in the first 10 minutes,” Westminster assistant coach Landon Cosby said after the game. “They had a great crowd and it took us some time to settle in. Once we found a way back into the game we were able to grind out the win.”

Chadron State (2-12, 2-8 RMAC) started the game on a roll as it raced out to a 15-4 advantage. Chadron State maintained that double-digit lead for most of the first half, including a 25-13 lead with 4:24 before halftime. A late 9-2 run helped the Griffins enter intermission trailing by only five.

After the Griffins were able to tie the game on two separate occasions in the second half, Chadron again countered, and the home team was up 66-58 with 3:14 remaining. Dayon Goodman then scored two buckets and assisted on a Zerrion Payton three to trim the deficit to 66-65. After Vonsinh Sayaloune converted a pair of free throws, Smith hit the game-tying three to force overtime.

Smith scored on the Griffins opening possession of overtime to give the Griffins their first lead of the night. Goodman then made 6-of-8 at the foul line in the final 3:28, and the defense forced Chadron into four turnovers to steal the victory.

Goodman finished the game with 22 points for his third 20-point outing of the season. The junior made 7-of-11 shots and was 8-of-10 at the foul line. He also contributed eight rebounds, three assists and two steals.

The Griffins shot 50 percent from the floor and went 5-of-12 from beyond the arc. They limited Chadron to 39.2 percent shooting and scored 27 points from 22 Eagle turnovers. Chadron won the rebounding game, 32-31, with each team grabbing eight offensive rebounds.

Payton added 17 points and three assists for the Griffins. Smith finished with 11 points, five rebounds and two steals, and he also came up with two drawn charges down the stretch.

“Mason had a solid game for us tonight,” said Cosby. “He drew some big charges and then hit the game-tying three.”

Chadron finished the game with 10 hits from deep and forced the Griffins into 18 turnovers. Chadron also held a lead for nearly 39 minutes of play.

Sayaloune led the Eagles with 23 points, and his potential game-winning three at the end of regulation rimmed out.

Westminster now heads to Denver where it will face Regis on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. MST. That game will be broadcast live by Comcast Entertainment Television, which is available to Comcast subscribers in Utah on XFINITY Channel 6. It will also be available on the RMAC Network.