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MW WOMENS BASKETBALL: Ballhandling, free throws lift Lady Jays over Tigers

Brian Korthals/Daily Globe Minnesota West's Katherine Kazemba shoots over Dakota Wesleyan defender Katlyn Woodrum during a non-conference game Tuesday night at Worthington High School.

WORTHINGTON -- Taking care of the ball better in the second half and sinking a total of 31 free throws Tuesday night, the Minnesota West Lady Jays claimed an 82-79 victory over the Dakota Wesleyan University JV Tigers in a non-conference women's college basketball game at Worthington High School.

Brittany Hulstein was 10-for-14 from the free-throw line in the second half and finished with 20 points to lead Minnesota West. Tiffany Gehl and Lindsey Drooger each scored 19 points to provide a boost for the Lady Jays, who are now 3-3 overall.

"This was a really nice win for us, as we played much better in the second half," Minnesota West head coach Mike Fury said. "We took care of the ball better and we were also more aggressive, taking the ball to the hoop and creating some scoring chances. We had a lot of girls step up and contribute."

Minnesota West was plagued by turnovers and foul trouble for much of the first half and trailed 40-36 at halftime. DWU's Micaela Erickson scored 14 of her 22 points in the first half to spark the Tigers to a four-point advantage at the break.

Abbey Fujan poured in 17 of her game-high 25 points in the second half to keep the Tigers close, but a 10-2 run midway through the final period gave Minnesota West a 59-51 cushion and helped the Lady Jays stay in front the rest of the way.

"We had a nice little run there in the second half and built a six- or eight-point margin," Fury said. "It kind of stayed that way and then we made some free throws down the stretch to hold on."

The Lady Jays went 31-for-43 from the foul line, while the Tigers were 25-for-35 in the physical game that featured lots of fouls.

DWU led for the majority of the first half, jumping out to leads of 7-3 and 16-9. Erickson's perimeter shooting -- including a transition 3-pointer from the right corner -- helped the Tigers early on.

Drooger and Hulstein knocked down long-distance shots on passes kicked out from Katey Granstra (10 points) to account for six of Minnesota West's initial seven points. Hulstein gave the Lady Jays their only lead of the first half (8-7) when she sank one of two free throws at the 16:02 mark.

DWU converted several steals into layups and mounted a 27-17 lead with 7:50 on the clock. Erickson, along with Fujan and Skyler Heyden (12 points), did the bulk of the scoring for the Tigers.

Katherine Kazemba scored six timely points in the first half for Minnesota West, going up strong for a pair of offensive-rebound baskets and driving down the right side of the lane for a hoop.

Gehl banked in a 3-pointer from the top of the key and also delivered a traditional 3-point play for the Lady Jays, as Minnesota West did trim the gap to four (40-36) by halftime.

Minnesota West then opened the second half with seven straight points to take a 43-40 lead. Mara Eichenberger passed to Drooger for a nifty basket, Gehl turned in another 3-point play, and Granstra scored on a putback basket to highlight that burst.

The score was later tied at 49 with 15:37 to go, and that's when Minnesota West started to create some separation. Mid-range shots by Eichenberger and Granstra, along with a layup off a steal by Hulstein, keyed a 10-2 run that gave the Lady Jays a 59-51 lead with 11:57 left.

DWU was able to pull within four points a couple of times in the final 10 minutes, but Minnesota West was solid from the free-throw line -- going 20-for-26 in the second half -- and secured a three-point win.

The Lady Jays also benefitted from a couple of interior baskets by Drooger to stay in front. Two free throws by Hulstein gave Minnesota West a late 82-76 lead before Erickson netted a long 3-pointer at the buzzer to create the final score.

Minnesota West travels to Hibbing Friday night.

MINNESOTA WEST 82,

DAKOTA WESLEYAN JV 79

(KEY: 3FG-2FG-FT-TP)

DAKOTA WESLEYAN JV: Kuhn 0-0-1-1, Erickson 3-5-3-22, Heyden 1-2-5-12, Binger 0-3-2-8, Willett 0-1-0-2, Medicine Horn 0-1-1-3, Keefe 0-0-4-4, MINNESOTA WEST (3-3): Eichenberger 0-2-2-6, Kazemba 0-3-2-8, Gehl 1-3-10-19, Hulstein 1-3-11-20, Drooger 1-7-2-19, Granstra 0-3-4-10. Totals: 3-21-31-82.

DWU JV 40 39 -- 79

MW 36 46 -- 82

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