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WOMEN'S BASKETBALL: Gehl, Drooger fuel Lady Jays' drubbing

Minnesota West's Brittany Hulstein (32) drives against Fergus Falls' Rhoda Christenson (21) during a Minnesota College Athletic Conference Southern Division game Saturday in Worthington. Jeff Arenz/Daily Globe

WORTHINGTON -- Tiffany Gehl and Lindsey Drooger dropped 29 and 27 points, respectively, to help the Minnesota West Lady Jays rout the Minnesota State-Fergus Falls Lady Spartans by a score of 71-44 in a women's basketball game Saturday.

"It is always good to come back and get a win after somebody has beaten you when you play them again; you have to do that," Minnesota West head coach Mike Fury said posting the Minnesota College Athletic Conference Southern Division win. "We looked for each other so well today and we got it to the hoop so well. Oh my, we just played a total team game tonight."

Despite the commanding win, the Lady Jays trailed by as many as five early in the first half.

"The thing that hurt us in the first half was the offensive rebounds because we gave up too many of them," Fury said. "If we had been able to control those right away we would have really been in control early on."

But after going on an 8-3 run, Minnesota West was able to build up some steam and took their first lead of the game on a 3-point jumper from Drooger at the 14:56 mark.

"They really had all those offensive rebounds early and that hurt us," Gehl said. "We were scoring, but we were not rebounding on the offensive end. We did a better job of that after a while, but turnovers were key because we hardly committed any compared to last game."

Fergus Falls tied the game at 19 with 11 minutes, 33 seconds left in the first, but that was the last time the Lady Spartans would be within striking distance of the Lady Jays. From then on, the game was all Minnesota West.

"We started to take control when they went to a zone and we hit a couple 3-pointers and we kept hitting each other inside," Fury said. "We also got to the free throw line and that helped us get out to a good lead."

From then on, the Lady Jays were in control. With the help of 19 first half points from Drooger and 15 from Gehl, Minnesota West went on a 23-9 run in the final 11 minutes of the first half.

"We are working really well together right now and that is why we have been able to put up so many points," Drooger said. "We know what each other can do and we are clicking as a group."

Coming out of the locker room after halftime with a 42-28 lead, the Lady Jays kept their foot on the gas, jumping out to an early 24 point lead 6 minutes into the second.

"Coach Fury said at halftime that they could not stop any of our cuts, so he told me to just keep cutting," Gehl said. "It is really fun playing with Lindsey and Brittany [Hulstein], because they look when you cut and pass it to you when you are open."

During the first 10 minutes of the second half, Gehl picked up 10 of Minnesota West's 22 points to add to the 15 she scored in the first half.

"I feel like we have really been clicking together lately," Gehl said. "I will post up and then Lindsey will pass it to me, or we will cut through the lane. We are always looking for each other."

Not only was the Lady Jays' offense clicking on all cylinders, but their defense was able to hold the Lady Spartans to just one free-throw point until Rhoda Christenson made a put back at 7:37 to make it 64-31.

"We played a lot better defense in the second half because we knew that they weren't making their shots," Drooger said. "So we just boxed them out and didn't allow them to get their second chances."

Minnesota West finished off the second half with 29 points, outscoring Fergus Falls by 13 in the final frame.

Hulstein led the Lady Jays in rebounds with nine on the night with Drooger and Gehl adding seven and six rebounds respectively. Hulstein also had four assists and six points in the game.

"Tiff and Lindsey were cutting like crazy all night long," Fury said. "We were able to find them all night and get a ton of assists from everyone."

Katey Granstra picked up eight points, five rebounds and four assists to go along with five blocked shots.

The Lady Jays (14-6, 5-2) host Western Technical College at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the first game of a men's/women's doubleheader.

Daily Globe Reporter Jordan Willi may be reached at 376-7335.