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Aaron Hagen/Daily Globe
Minnesota West's Lon Eichenberger shoots a long-range shot during Saturday's men's college basketball game in Worthington.
Aaron Hagen/Daily Globe Minnesota West's Lon Eichenberger shoots a long-range shot during Saturday's men's college basketball game in Worthington.

Bluejays handed home loss, 93-73

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sports Worthington, 56187
Worthington Minnesota 300 11th Street / P.O. Box 639 56187

WORTHINGTON -- The last few games have been rough on Minnesota West's Jordan Buddenhagen.

Saturday's 93-73 loss to Ridgewater was no different for the point guard of the men's basketball team.

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Buddenhagen, who averages 17.2 points per game, was held to seven points on 3-of-10 shooting.

"It's been brutal and physical," Buddenhagen said of the last few games. "The body is a little wore down, but it's been tough. But there are other opportunities for other guys to step up."

Buddenhagen scored 29 points Jan. 14 against Rochester, but with teams keying on the talented guard, hasn't scored more than 11 since and has averaged 9.3 points in his last nine games.

"They have given him zero room to breath," MW head coach Justin Heckenlaible said. "And when he does get a little bit of room, I think he's kind of shocked and then he misses those shots, too. When you're our leading scorer, that's what you expect and that's what you have to do."

Even when Buddenhagen had the open looks against the tough defenses, his shots were rushed.

"There were a couple of times when you force some shots because you get frustrated once in a while," he said. "But that's the way it goes."

But while Buddenhagen was struggling to find any open space Saturday, teammate Stevie Statz was playing one of his better games.

The freshman forward scored a team-high 19 points on 6-of-10 shooting, including four 3-pointers.

While the freshmen were stepping up, sophomores Aaron Delaney, Lon Eichenberger and Devon Harrell were all suiting up as Bluejays for the final time Saturday.

"We appreciate Lon, Aaron and Devon's last two years and their commitment to our program," Heckenlaible said. "I think we have most of our freshman coming back and we have a lot of good pieces."

MW has six freshmen on the roster this season, but will miss the leadership from the sophomores.

"(The sophomores) showed me the ropes pretty much," Buddenhagen said. "Right when we got here they showed us around town and stuff, then in practice they guided us with the new stuff. They helped us get accustomed to the program."

Along with Statz and Buddenhagen, Josh VanDuyn, Cory Lesnar, John Jones and Dan Stryzinski will all have the opportunity to play again next year.

"Once it's over its kind of sad," Buddenhagen said. "We have a good group and hopefully everybody stays and we get some recruits in for next year."

Ridgewater jumped out to an early lead Saturday, taking an early 15-9 lead, and later held a 25-10 advantage.

However, a pair of long-range shots by Harrell and Eichenberger cut the deficit to nine points.

"We played hard," Heckenlaible said. "We probably shot way too many 3s, but that kept us in the game. We got down early, and we changed to a 1-3-1 zone trap and we got back in the game."

Jones and Statz each hit a trey as MW trailed by three, 31-28.

Statz then hit two more 3s as MW had a 34-33 lead.

However, the lead would be short lasted as Ridgewater had a 46-39 lead at halftime.

"They are a good team," Heckenlaible said. "They made a bunch of shots, and we've had the same looks, we just haven't been able to make them this year."

Trailing 52-43, Lesnar hit a rare 3, cutting the deficit to six points.

"We've been begging him to shoot from the perimeter all year," Heckenlaible said of Lesnar. "We had to yell at him to shoot the 3. He can do that; he finished second in the 3-point shooting contest (Friday)."

The Bluejays continued to trail by six points early in the second half, but an 11-0 run gave the Warriors a 71-54 lead.

Ridgewater built the lead to 21, before taking the 93-73 victory.

"We got beat by 20 today, but we played with much more effort than we did in our last game," Heckenlaible said. "That was the biggest thing we wanted to do today was play with effort."

The Warriors, who qualified for the state tournament, were led by Casey Sussenguth's 30 points. Derek Eisenschenk scored 17, while Cory Nietfeld added 16 for Ridgewater.

VanDuyn and Delaney each scored 10 for MW, which played its final game.

"It's disappointing," Buddenhagen said. "But there's nothing you can really do about it now. You win some, you lose some, and you just have to play for the other people."

RW 46 47 -- 93

MW 39 34 -- 73

RW (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Moser 1-5-1-14, Neu 0-2-0-4, Bredeson 0-1-0-2, Hennen 0-3-0-6, Eisenschenk 3-4-0-17, Sussenguth 1-11-1-30, Boike 0-2-0-4, Nietfeld 0-8-0-16. Totals 5-36-6-93.

MW (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Statz 4-2-3-19, VanDuyn 0-4-2-10, Harrell 3-0-0-9, Eichenberger 1-0-0-3, Delaney 0-5-0-10, Buddenhagen 1-2-0-7, Jones 1-1-0-5, Lesnar 1-0-2-5, Stryzinski 0-2-1-5. Totals 11-16-8-73.

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