HOLLAND, Mich. – The Westminster College men's basketball team lost, 80-77, to Hope College in its opening game of Hope's Russ DeVette Holiday Classic on Friday.
Hope (7-3) was in the lead for the majority of the first half and had its largest lead of eight points three times, with the latest coming at the 11:41 mark (22-14). The Flying Dutchmen led 26-19 with eight minutes left, before Westminster (7-4) orchestrated a 15-8 run to tie the game at 34. Junior Anthony Ritter (North Lima, OH / South Range) put the Titans up (36-34) for the first time since the beginning of the game. The game was tied at 40 at halftime.
Westminster scored the first points of the second half and maintained the lead for the first 11 minutes. The Titans had their largest lead of seven points twice, with the latest coming at 64-57 following a jumper by senior Dylan O'Hara (Girard, OH / Girard). Hope responded with a 7-0 run to tie the game at 64. Six lead changes ensued with Hope taking the last lead at 77-75 with 1:12 left. After the Flying Dutchmen took a four-point lead, Titan senior Blake Payne (Ashtabula, OH / Jefferson Area) pulled Westminster within two (79-77) with a jumper with 16 seconds left. Hope split a pair of free throws and a Westminster jumper came up short to end the game.
Three Titans scored in double-digits, led by O'Hara with 22 points. O'Hara has now scored 20 or more points in three-straight games, fifth total this season. Payne followed with 12 points and grabbed down a game-high nine rebounds (tying a season-best). Junior Daniel Ritter (North Lima, OH / South Range) registered 10 points, while senior Preston Stitt (Boardman, OH / South Range) tallied a career-high nine points. Senior Ricky Roth (Ellwood City, PA / Lincoln) dished out a team-high three assists.
Westminster outshot Hope, 46.2% (30-65) to 45.9% (28-61) and held a 35-32 advantage in rebounds.
The Titans conclude their Michigan trip with the Hope Classic's opening game Saturday, Dec. 28 against Olivet College at 1 p.m.