MW MEN'S BASKETBALL: Bluejays drop thriller to Yellowjackets 72-71WORTHINGTON — The Minnesota West Bluejays men’s basketball team and Rochester Community and Technical College battled down to the wire Wednesday night in a Minnesota College Athletic Conference Southern Division contest.
By: Lance Knutson, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — The Minnesota West Bluejays men’s basketball team and Rochester Community and Technical College battled down to the wire Wednesday night in a Minnesota College Athletic Conference Southern Division contest.
Unfortunately for the Bluejays, it was the visitors claiming a 72-71 victory with a 3-pointer from Deuntae Broadnax with 2.5 seconds left on the clock to put the Yellowjackets up by one.
Broadnax’s game-winner came off an assist from Torren Dowdy (nine points, four assists), who penetrated into the MW defense and then passed the ball outside the 3-point arc.
Broadnax (25 points) gathered himself and banked in the 3 from the left wing to give Rochester the lead, which MW was unable to respond to following timeouts from each team as a Myler Neal (14 points, five assists) half-court shot at the buzzer missed its mark.
“We played it really well and were actually surprised that they were going to go for a 3, only down by two,” Bluejays head coach Justin Heckenlaible said. “We switched the screen and had a hand up but unfortunately they threw in the shot.
“I thought we did some good things on that last possession and you just have to tip your hat to them.”
In a game that featured 24 lead changes and nine ties, MW had a 70-67 lead with 30 seconds to go after Alan Green (10 points) sank a pair of free throws.
On the next Yellowjacket’s possession, Neal blocked a 3-point attempt by Dowdy with 25 seconds left, but Shiron Williams gathered the loose ball in the corner and put up a 3 of his own.
Neal attempted another block, but unfortunately fouled Williams, who scored a game-high 28 points, and the second-year guard knocked down two of the three charity shots to pull Rochester within one at 70-69 with 21 seconds left.
Luke Roddy (team-high 18 points with five 3’s) was sent to the foul line for MW with 14 seconds remaining and made one of two to give the Bluejays the two-point spread (71-69), but it wasn’t enough for the hosts.
“We missed some free throws and some other opportunities earlier in the half,” Heckenlaible said. “That’s what the main focus is going to be. If we would’ve made some shots and finished some shots and not had so many turnovers, it shouldn’t have came to that.
“But I’m very proud of the guy’s effort. We could’ve easily folded up and not played hard, but we gave them all they could handle. So I’m really proud of the effort and how hard we played.”
Rochester, which trailed by a game-high seven points (23-16) at the 9:02 mark of the first half, improves to 19-6 overall and 8-3 in the conference. The Yellowjackets travel to Brainerd to play Central Lakes Saturday.
Yellowjackets head coach Brian LaPlante wasn’t surprised at all about how close the game was.
“Justin does a good job with those guys and they are an absolute handful,” LaPlante said. “They are a state tournament-caliber team. If they’re in the North Division, they might win the North.
“We weren’t surprised at all that this was a dogfight of a game. We just hit some big shots, had a couple of defensive stands and rebounded in some good spots.
“We’re very fortunate to come away with a win.”
MW’s seven-point lead in the first half came following a pair of made 3-pointers from Roddy at 10:03 to make it 20-16 and then at 9:02 off an assist from Mitchell Olson (14 points, five rebounds) to make it 23-16.
However, Rochester kept responding to the hosts and eventually took a two-point lead into the intermission.
The Bluejays opened the second half with an 8-0 run to claim a 38-32 lead, as Mitch Hopkins (eight points) made a pair of baskets in the paint and Neal had a pair of layups with 16:07 left.
Neal, who scored 12 of his 14 points in the second half, made it 40-34 with 14:46 left following a basket by Broadnax, but Williams nailed a pair of 3’s over the next 90 seconds to tie the game at 40 with 12:49 to go.
From there, both teams exchanged blows over the final 12 minutes with neither side extending the lead to more than four points and setting up the exciting finish.
“We went out there with the attitude to just play hard (Wednesday), looking to build into next year,” Hopkins said. “Rochester had won seven in a row coming into this game, but it’s a game we shouldn’t of let get away. It hurts, this one stings as this was a revenge game as they creamed us up at their place the last time we played.”
MW drops to 10-14 overall and 4-7 in the conference. The Bluejays finish their season on Saturday with a home game against Riverland.
“Saturday’s game is going to big,” Hopkins added. “We’ve got a lot of guys coming back next year, so we will be looking to get a ‘W’ and go out on a positive note.”
Rochester 32 40 — 72
MW 30 41 — 71
Rochester (3FG-2FG-FT-TP): Williams 4-4-8-28, Harper 0-1-0-2, Dowdy 1-2-2-9, Anfinson 2-1-0-8, Broadnax 1-10-2-25. Totals 8-18-12-72.
MW (3FG-2FG-FT-TP): Roddy 5-1-1-18, Green 0-4-2-10, Hopkins 0-3-2-8, Olson 0-5-4-14, Lewis 0-1-0-2, Sabastiano 0-1-3-5, Neal 0-5-4-14. Totals 5-20-16-71.