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Lady Jays run away from Pioneers in second half

WORTHINGTON -- Leading by just three points heading into the locker room at halftime, Minnesota West head women's basketball coach Mike Fury's message was simple.

"Every game, we talk about how big the first five minutes of the second half are," Fury said. "I think the first half we couldn't get anything going offensively. All we said was that it was a big five minutes, and that we just have to run the offense."

Behind solid defense and nearly flawless offense to start the second half, the Lady Jays (4-4) used a 21-0 run to increase their lead to 53-29 en route to a 78-49 victory over Northland Friday night.

"We came back in the first five minutes, and coach stressed how important that was," Ashlee Domine said. "It was a really close game, so we went out there and gave it all we had and worked really hard."

Ashley Kirk (seven points, three steals) started the scoring with a defensive rebound that she took coast-to-coast for a layup.

Domine (23 points, nine rebounds) scored four consecutive points, as West was off and running.

It took nearly six minutes for Northland to score in the second half, and the Pioneers were outscored 27-7 in the first 10 minutes of the half.

"We played terrible," Northland head coach Guy Finstrom said. "We couldn't hit the broad side of a barn."

After shooting 45 percent in the first half, the Pioneers (3-3) shot 23 percent in the final period.

"Some games you don't shoot well, and some games you do," Finstrom said.

For the Lady Jays, Domine led the way with five steals, as West totaled 14 in the contest.

"The defense got us going, and we just kept it going," Fury said. "We could have done that in the first half, but we just couldn't. It was a nice win though, you have to like them."

Northland committed 33 turnovers in the contest, while Minnesota West had 21.

"We knew what we had to do being in the first half," Domine said. "We had to rebound and hustle and control the ball. We had a hard time in the first half running through our plays."

The Lady Jays were able to get their offense going to start the game. Domine hit a three in the Lady Jays' first possession, but the Pioneers' Sara Rindahl (six points) converted on a 3-point play to tie the game.

After a basket by Northland's Casey Engelstad (five points), Stacy Bush (14 points) converted on a 3-point play of her own as the Lady Jays took the lead.

Minnesota West opened up a seven-point lead midway through the first half, but an offensive drought allowed the Pioneers to climb back in the game.

After Northland's Brooke Conely (15 points) nailed a trey, Northland was back within two points.

Trailing by a point in the closing minutes of the first half, Minnesota West's G P Vaske hit a pair of free throws, and Domine hit a jumper as West took a 32-29 lead into halftime.

"I think offensively was worse than defensively in the first half," Fury said. "We just couldn't get into a flow."

After jumping all over the Pioneers to start the second half, Northland tried to make a comeback.

Rosie Lewis (seven points, seven rebounds) hit a shot to increase the West lead to 28 points, but the Pioneers went on a 7-2 run to close the gap.

However, a try from Ashley Neperman (12 points) ended the Northland run, as the Lady Jays secured a 78-49 victory.

"We got a little more energy that second half," Fury said. "We made some baskets, and hit some 3s. Anytime you can get some baskets, it helps you."

Minnesota West will be at home again today against Itasca. Game time is slated for 1 p.m., and Domine hopes the momentum continues.

"Hopefully it keeps up," Domine said. "We're 4-4 right now, and we want to get that better. We're coming off a good second half game, so we'll work hard."

Northland 29 20 -- 49

Minnesota West 32 46 -- 78

Northland (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Passa 0-0-1-1, Rindahl 0-2-2-6, Ralston 0-1-1-3, Gust 0-0-1-1, Engelman 0-1-0-3, Conely 2-3-3-15, Klamer 0-0-1-1, Englestad 0-2-1-5, Cobbins 0-1-2-4, Rogalla 0-4-2-10 Totals 3-13-14-49.

Minnesota West (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Voges 0-0-2-2, Neperman 3-0-3-12, Domine 3-7-0-23, Bush 1-5-1-14, Lewis 0-1-5-7, Kirk 0-3-1-7, Vaske 0-1-2-4, Mischke 0-3-1-7, Thomas 0-1-0-2. Totals 7-21-15-78.