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Bush's 22 points leads Lady Jays past Blue Devils, 72-55

WORTHINGTON -- In a game that featured two of the top scorers in the MCCC Southern Division, it was the defense that made the difference in Minnesota West's 72-55 victory over Riverland in a women's basketball contest Wednesday night.

Minnesota West's Ashlee Domine entered Wednesday's game with a division-leading 20.4 points per game average, while Riverland's Brooke Monson is averaging an even 20 points per contest.

However, while Monson scored more points (26 points to Domine's 17), it was Domine's team that handed Riverland just its second division loss this season.

"It's a big win for us," Stacy Bush said. "We knew what we were coming up against. Riverland is a great team, and they are great shooters, but we knew what we had to do. We knew to guard their 3-point line, and we shut down (Monson). Rosie did an amazing job on her, too."

Riverland (7-2 19-3) was held to just 32 percent shooting from the floor and was just 5-of-21 from beyond the arc.

"We did a good job defensively, but they are great shooters," Minnesota West head coach Mike Fury said.

"We kept (Ali) Mackey and (Anna) Hebrink under check tonight, and that's huge against these guys. We held them to 55 points, and that's a good night against those guys, because they can put some points on the board."

With the victory, Minnesota West (6-4, 13-10) stays in third place in the division and is still in contention for a playoff spot.

"We think everybody's chasing us, so we're fighting with Anoka-Ramsey and Ridgewater behind us," Fury said. "It's always good to beat a team ahead of us because hopefully, they can beat the teams behind us yet. It gives us a little breathing room, but we need at least one big 'W' or maybe two."

Domine started the game with a trey, but Riverland's Mackey (seven points) answered to tie the game at 3-all.

However, after a free throw and a layup from Domine, the Lady Jays were off and running.

Behind a trey from Stacy Bush, the Lady Jays went on a 14-4 run to take a 20-9 lead early in the first half.

The Blue Devils would not go quietly, however. A jump shot from Mackey started a 10-0 run for Riverland, bringing the deficit to just one point.

Leading 20-19, MW closed the first half on a 17-9 run to take a 37-28 lead at halftime.

"We certainly didn't play well," Riverland head coach Suzy Hebrink said. "They played very well, and we shot poorly. I think we played flat, and we haven't been playing defense very well. This is what happens when you play a good team and they're scoring, and you're not."

Bush started the second half with a trey, and after a basket from GP Vaske (eight points, seven rebounds), West had a 46-32 lead early in the second half.

The Lady Jays continued to build a lead, and after three consecutive baskets from Cali Mischke, West had a 59-40 lead midway through the second half.

"We talked about how big the first five minutes are after the first half," Fury said. "We said that if we just keep them there, and they never got close in the second half. I don't want to say we cruised, but we had such great patience with the ball."

Playing with just seven women to begin the game, Minnesota West had two players foul out and another with four fouls in the final two minutes, but they were able to show patience offensively and come up with key defensive stops to secure a 72-55 victory.

"We just played as good as we could play," Fury said. "Two people fouled out, so we had people step up. Those seven girls definitely deserve that one that was a good win."

West was led by Bush with 22 points and 11 rebounds and a pair of assists.

"She had a couple of huge 3s, took care of the ball and had some assists," Fury said. "She just did a great job up at the point, and that's what we like from her."

While Monson scored above her average, the rest of the Blue Devils struggled to find their rhythm. Only Anna Hebrink had double figures, with 10 points.

"(Monson) had no help. On the perimeter, we just shot horrible," Suzy Hebrink said. "You can't have one person scoring and everybody else not."

As the Lady Jays make their playoff run, they will have to do it on the road. West will travel to Fergus Falls Saturday, and then travel to Ridgwater the following week.

"Fergus Falls is a pretty big game," Bush said. "To get Fergus Falls will be a great win again. They are a great team, and they are at home. If we win, it would be great."

Riverland 28 27 -- 55

Minnesota West 37 35 -- 72

Riverland (3FG-3FG-FT-TP) Crowley 1-0-0-3, Mackey 1-2-0-7, Mueller 1-0-1-4, Swalla 0-2-1-5, Hebrink 0-3-4-10, Monson 2-5-10-26. Totals 5-12-16.

MW (3FG-3FG-FT-TP) Domine 1-4-6-17, Bush 5-1-5-22, Lewis 0-4-2-10, Kirk 1-0-6-9, Vaske 0-4-0-8, Mischke 0-3-0-6. Totals 7-16-19-72.