MW MENS BASKETBALL: MW falls to RochesterWORTHINGTON — Minnesota West couldn't quite pull off a Minnesota Collegiate Athletic Conference Southern Division upset of Rochester on Saturday at Worthington High School.
WORTHINGTON — Minnesota West couldn't quite pull off a Minnesota Collegiate Athletic Conference Southern Division upset of Rochester on Saturday at Worthington High School.
The Yellowjackets’ Cory Speer broke a 54-all tie with a rare 4-point play to spark a 21-6 second-half run that helped Rochester seal an 85-72 victory over the Bluejays.
“I thought we some better shot selection, got the ball inside and, defensively, we rebounded really well during that stretch,” Yellowjackets head coach Brian LaPlante said. “Minnesota West had some good looks, but our rebounding made them go one-and-out. I don’t know if it was one thing, but doing a combination of some smart things.”
Rochester, which is 16-3 overall, leads the Southern Division with a 6-0 league mark. Minnesota West fell to 10-8 overall and carries a 3-3 record in the Southern Division.
“We had a dry spell in the middle of the second half where we just could not make any baskets,” Minnesota West head coach Justin Heckenlaible said. “There was a 3- or 4-minute stretch there when we couldn’t score and you can’t do that against good teams like Rochester.”
LaPlante said his Yellowjackets passed a stiff test.
“It’s not a surprise that this was a tough game for us,” LaPlante said. “Heading into the new year, I told my team that Minnesota West was the best team that we will play in our conference. Coming over here — with the atmosphere and with the way Justin prepares his kids — this game was not a surprise.”
The Bluejays, who found themselves trailing 19-3 after 7 minutes had expired, scored 18 of the next 22 points to cut the Yellowjackets’ lead to 23-21 with 8:56 left in the first half.
Minnesota West made its comeback the old-fashioned way. Orie Brown, Tyson Langdeau and Mitch Hopkins all made free throws after drawing fouls on a trio of baskets in the span of 70 seconds until 11:40 remained before halftime.
Brown, who finished with 14 points, also produced a layup as the Bluejays scored 11 straight points. Tyler Aquallo, who led Minnesota West with 15 points, added a pair of free throws and a coast-to-coast layup during the run, while Taylor Lupton had a putback as Rochester clung to a 23-20 lead.
The Bluejays could have come within a point of the Yellowjackets, but Minnesota West’s Alan Green hit 1 of 2 free throws at the 8:56 mark. Minnesota West was plagued by ineffective free-throw shooting throughout the game.
“Even if we have gotten down or haven’t played well during a stretch, we always battle back,” said Heckenlaible, who watched the Bluejays convert only 19 of 33 free throws in the game. “Rochester hasn’t had many close games in the division and we were trying to get to the end of the game with it being close to see how Rochester would react.”
LaPlante said Minnesota could have forced him to use a different strategy, if it would have made its free throws.
“It was big deal that Minnesota West missed those free throws,” LaPlante said. “If they would have gone something like 24 of 33, the last 2 minutes of the game would have been totally different, especially with the way I would have coached in this game.”
Luke Roddy, who had 13 points for the Bluejays, drained two of his three 3-point field goals in the final 3:03 of the first half. But Rochester remained in front (43-38) at the break behind Justin Galloway, who generated 10 of his game-high 19 points in the first 20 minutes.
Galloway, a 6-foot-2 guard, also collected 14 rebounds for a double-double.
After the Yellowjackets grabbed a 49-40 lead on Brett Hungerholt’s baseline jumper with 18 minutes left, Minnesota West used a 14-4 run during the next 4½ minutes to take its only lead of the game (54-53) on a Mitch Olson layup with 13:46 left.
But Rochester was able to counter with a run of its own and preserved the win by hitting six consecutive free throws in the final 67 seconds.
Rico Gunn added 13 points for the Yellowjackets, who also received 11 points from D.J. Woods.
MINNESOTA WEST 72
ROCHESTER (16-3, 6-0): Galloway 7 5-6 19, Woods 5 0-0 11, Williford 1 0-0 3, Speer 3 1-2 8, Gunn 4 4-4 13, Huffcut-Grant 2 0-0 4, Lodermeier 0 0-0 0, Robinson 3 2-3 8, Vance 0 1-2 1, Hungerholt 1 2-2 4, Scott 2 2-2 6, Beck 3 2-2 8. Totals: 31 19-23 85.
MINNESOTA WEST (10-8, 3-3): Roddy 3 4-4 13, Langdeau 1 1-1 3, Green 0 1-4 1, Seitzinger 1 0-0 3, Olson 3 0-4 6, Brown 6 1-1 14, Aquallo 4 7-8 15, Hopkins 1 3-6 5, Lupton 1 0-2 2, Harris 4 2-3 10. Totals: 24 19-33 72.
Rochester 43 42 — 85
Minnesota West 38 34 — 72
3-Point Goals: Rochester 4 (Gunn, Speer, Williford, Woods); Minnesota West 5 (Roddy 3, Brown, Seitzinger). Rebounds: Rochester 62 (Team 15, Galloway 14, Hungerholt 9, Robinson 7, Beck 5, Woods 4); Minnesota West 36 (Team 14, Harris 4). Total Fouls (Fouled Out): Rochester 25 (Beck); Minnesota West 21 (none). Technical Fouls: None. Assists: Rochester 17 (Hungerholt 7, Gunn 4); Minnesota West 11 (Aquallo 4). Steals: Rochester 12 (Speer 4, Galloway 3, Beck 3); Minnesota West 16 (Aquallo 3). Blocked Shots: Rochester 2 (Robinson, Beck); Minnesota West 4 (Langdeau, Brown, Aquallo, Harris). Turnovers: Rochester 23; Minnesota West 15.