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College men's basketball: Bluejays dominate

Brian Korthals/Daily Globe Minnesota West Bluejay Cyrell Hodges (0) drives around Dakota Wesleyan Tiger defender Jon Vorwald (10) during Wednesday night’s college basketball game in Worthington.

Les Knutson

Daily Globe

WORTHINGTON —Playing its first game in 18 days, it took a few minutes for Minnesota West to get rolling Wednesday night.

But when they got untracked, the Bluejays dominated Dakota Wesleyan’s junior varsity in a men’s basketball game at the newly-remodeled campus gymnasium and earned an impressive 88-58 victory over the Tigers.

Forcing 11 first-half turnovers and distributing the ball for 10 assists, the Bluejays opened up a 47-24 halftime lead, utilizing an early 11-0 run to take control.

“We forced quite a few turnovers with our fullcourt press and we passed the ball well,” summed up MW head coach Justin Heckenlaible about the one-sided win. “We hadn’t played a game in for nearly three weeks and used our practice time to work on getting ball reversal, both by passing on the perimeter and with dribble-drive penetration.”

Derek Buysse, a 6-4 freshman forward from Marshall, displayed his versatility throughout the game, finishing with a game-high 21 points while also pulling down five rebounds, passing for three assists, blocking a shot and coming up with a pair of steals.

“Derek was likely our MVP tonight,” declared Heckenlaible. “But we had a lot of guys contribute —all 10 of them.”

Effectively rotating players and playing at a fast tempo, the Bluejays put 10 players in the scoring column and nine of them had assists.

Playing time was distributed from a low of 11:55 to a high of 26:50 in the 40-minute contest.

“That’s how we have to play,” Heckenlaible stressed. “We need to press and we expect each guy to play hard and help make things happen for us.”

Neither team scored over the game’s first 90 seconds until Worthington native Jon Vorwald, a 6-3 freshman guard for DWU, dribbled to his left and connected on a contested 22-foot 3-pointer from the left wing, giving the Tigers a 3-0 lead.

It was DWU’s only lead of the night.

The Bluejays countered with a 3-pointer by Buysse and a dazzling drive by sophomore guard Jackson Seitzinger to take a 5-3 edge.

A pair of free throws by freshman Ja’Pree Murry, a basket inside by freshman Larry Bell (assist Taylor Lupton) and a strong drive by freshman DeAndre Griggs-Washington increased MW’s advantage to 11-3 with 14:56 remaining in the first half.

The Bluejays later extended the lead to 22-6, as Lupton —a sophomore from Sioux Falls —capped an 11-3 run with his first field goal of the night.

Buysse’s second 3-pointer of the game spread the margin to 35-17. Later, a sweet hook shot by freshman Blake Fischer increased the gap to 43-23.

The Bluejays finished their first-half scoring barrage with an open shot from the right corner by freshman Brett Bennett and an easy inside basket by Seitzinger (assist Bell).

Eight Bluejays had assists in the first half.

Lupton scored MW’s first six points of the second half, as the Bluejays stayed in command, stretching the lead to 53-30.

With all 10 players continuing to contribute, the advantage stayed at least 20 points the rest of the way.

The Bluejays, who shot 47 percent from the field (32-of-68) for the game, owned leads of 56-36, 70-44 and 78-49 before posting the final 30-point win.

MW outrebounded DWU by a 45-37 margin and finished the game with 18 assists and only nine turnovers, compared to eight assists and 21 turnovers for the Tigers.

Fischer paced the Bluejays on the boards with 10 rebounds (six offensive) and sophomore Cyrell Hodges issued a team-leading five assists.

Lupton and Fischer each finished with 12 points, Bell and Bennett both claimed six rebounds and Seitzinger had four assists.

Holding a 3-1 record, the Bluejays travel to Estherville, Iowa Saturday to tangle with rival Iowa Lakes Community College.

Wesleyan JV 24 34 — 58

Bluejays 47 41 — 88

DWU (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Uthe 0-1-2-4, Morgan 2-1-1-9, Vorwald 1-0-0-3, Widow 1-2-2-9, Warkenthien 0-1-4-6, Karst 1-2-0-7, Dye 0-3-0-6, Alford 0-2-4-8, Fischbach 0-2-2-6. Totals 5-14-15-58.

Bluejays (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Hodges 0-1-0-2, Bell 0-2-4-8, Murry 0-1-2-4, Seitzinger 1-3-0-9, Griggs-Washington 0-1-5-7, Cooper 0-3-1-7, Buysse 3-5-2-21, Fischer 0-5-2-12, Lupton 0-5-2-12, Bennett 0-2-2-6. Totals 4-28-20-88.