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Poor second half shooting dooms Bluejays

WORTHINGTON -- It was the tale of two halves for the Minnesota West men's basketball team Wednesday.

The Bluejays (4-9) used a big run in the first half to take a three-point advantage at halftime, but could not overcome a potent Anoka-Ramsey team in a 76-63 victory for the Golden Rams (13-2) in a Southern Division contest.

"We had a good first half, and in the second half we just couldn't make any shots," Minnesota West head coach Justin Heckenlaible said. "They made some key shots and had some key stops. We didn't execute very well in the second half, and it was one that we thought we should have had."

After shooting 40 percent from the floor in the first half, the Bluejays only made 10-of-28 (35 percent) shots in the second half, while scoring just 26 points in the second frame.

On the opposite side, Anoka-Ramsey shot 58 percent from the floor in the second half to take the 13-point victory.

"Anytime you take a three hour bus ride, it takes something out of you," Anoka Ramsey head coach Bill Mckee said. "It's an away game, so we're glad to win it."

Nate Whisler (10 points) started the scoring in the game with a layup, while Armondo Davison (20 points) added two more on free throws, as A-R had an early lead.

However, West's Justin Lee (10 points, nine rebounds) hit a free throw, and Robby Schaefer hit consecutive 3-pointers as West took a 7-4 lead.

"I didn't think we played very well the first eight minutes of the game, but then we kind of back in our rhythm a little bit and played better the rest of the game," Mckee said.

A-R chipped away at the lead, and behind a trey from Davison, had a 16-14 lead midway through the first half.

However, the Bluejays answered with a 12-1 run sparked by a basket from Lee, followed by a shot from Aaron Delaney (13 points). Schaefer and Devon Harrell (five points) each hit a three as West had a 26-17 advantage.

The Golden Rams once again chipped away at the lead, but two baskets by Delaney to end the half secured a 37-34 West lead at the break.

Cole Alexander-Vryens (12 points) made back-to-back baskets to start the second half, giving A-R the lead.

Lee hit another shot to reclaim the lead, but a potent Golden Ram offense would not give in.

A-R opened up a 52-48 lead midway through the second half, and looked to be making its move.

However, MW's Chris Aggen (11 points) hit a trey from the right wing to bring the score back to within one point.

After two more baskets from A-R, Aggen once again got the Bluejays on the board with a shot, and followed with an offensive rebound and a basket in an attempt to keep the Bluejays close.

Following Aggen's rebound and follow, the Golden Rams went on a 9-0 run to put the game out of reach en route to a 76-63 victory.

"We had plenty of good looks and we were able to get to the basket, but we weren't able to finish," Heckenlaible said of the second half. "We had pretty good balance overall, we just needed to make some baskets and critical times, and we couldn't do that."

West had a slim 33-32 rebounding advantage, but had a 16-9 lead on the offensive glass.

"We're never satisfied on defense," Mckee said. "We gave up at least nine offensive rebounds in the first half, and I don't know how many in the second, so we have to work on some block out drills."

A-R was able to control the paint offensively, scoring 34 points in the paint compared to just 14 for West.

"I think we played pretty hard for the most part, and we have to continue to do that," Heckenlaible said. "But we have to protect our home court."

Minnesota West will be on the court again Saturday when the Bluejays will host Minneapolis in another Southern Division contest.

"Minneapolis is pretty good and they are big, so we have to be ready to rebound on Saturday," Heckenlaible said.

MW 37 26 -- 63

A-R 34 42 -- 76

MW (3PT-2PT-FT-TP) Schaefer 4-1-0-14, Harrell 1-0-2-5, Delaney 1-5-0-13, Aggen 1-4-0-11 Marrs 0-3-2-8, Sanford 0-1-0-2, Lee 0-3-4-10. Totals 7-17-8-63.

A-R (3PT-2PT-FT-TP) Davison 1-5-7-20, Whisler 0-3-4-10, Vryens 0-6-0-12, Moore 0-2-1-5, Kizzee 0-2-0-4, Williams 0-4-0-8, Stensrud 2-3-2-14, Harrison 1-0-0-3. Totals 4-25-14-76.