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College women's basketball: Lady Jays hit 100 to rout Mesabi Range

Brian Korthals/Daily Globe Tiffany Gehl takes a shot for the Minnesota West Lady Jays Saturday.



WORTHINGTON—Sophomore Tiffany Gehl scored in a variety of ways, mostly on layups, in the first half as her ability to run the floor helped her match Mesabi Range’s first-half point production in a college womens basketball game at the Health and Wellness Center in Worthington Saturday night.

When the intermission horn sounded, both Gehl and the Norse had 22 points. The Lady Jays used the dominating first half to soundly defeat the Norse 100-63.

Six other Lady Jays had combined for 41 points by halftime— including 14 each by sophomore Kristen Andersen and freshmen Lydia Kemper — as West built an impressive 63-22 lead over the game’s first 20 minutes.

“We were able to dictate the tempo and play fast,” summed up veteran MW women’s coach Mike Fury. “That’s the way we like to play. We were able to get out and run a lot of fastbreaks, getting a many layups off some sharp passing.”

Early on, freshman guard Bridget Kramer —- who played her high school basketball for Ellsworth —- was the catalyst, firing perfect lead passes to freshman Brittney Hermeling and to Gehl for layups, which gave the Lady Jays a quick 7-2 lead.

Both Gehl and Hermeling played for Fulda High School.

A steal and layup by Andersen followed and with 15:57 on the clock, MW owned a 9-2 advantage.

The Norse countered with their only surge of the first half, slicing the lead to 11-8 with a brief 6-2 spurt.

But after that, the game belonged totally to the Lady Jays.

A strong putback hoop by freshman Bailey Tish, a native of Sherburn (Martin County West High School) started MW on a 29-2 run, which was capped by another fast break layup from Kramer to Gehl, which gave Tiffany 17 points in the game’s first 12 minutes and 47 seconds.

Andersen and Kemper, who both played high school basketball for the Worthington Trojans, each scored several times in the remaining seven minutes as West stayed firmly in control.

Displaying nifty inside moves, Andersen scored on a pair of three-point plays (assist from Gehl on the second one), while Gehl also converted an inside three-point play (assist Andersen).

A pair of three-point baskets by both Gehl and Kemper highlighted the closing minutes of the first half, as did a spectacular play from Gehl (ballside-hand steal) to Kramer and back to Gehl for a layup.

Kramer finished the first half with six assists, including a dandy inside to Tish early in the contest.

“Bridget does a nice job of finding the open player,” praised Fury. “She passes the ball well.”

The Lady Jays shot a sizzling 61 percent (25 of 41) from the field in the first half and outrebounded the Norse by a 25-16 margin. MW scored 22 points off 15 Norse turnovers and came up with seven second-chance points.

The second half started with another basket by Gehl (assist Kramer) and then sophomore Lindsey Drooger (Edgerton Public) converted a patented left-handed sweep in the lane, knocked down a left wing three-pointer and scored on a putback before Kemper scored twice on duplicate steals and layups as the Lady Jays stretched the spread to 50, leading 77-27 with 13 minutes to play.

The Norse, who have won a pair of games this season, battled back in the remaining time —- outscoring MW by a 36-23 margin.

Freshmen guards Connor Rautio (Mountain Iron) and Danielle Lenci (Tower) paced Mesabi Range with 16 and 15 points, respectively, combining for 17 second-half points after scoring seven each before intermission.

Gehl finished with 30 points and seven points for the Jays, while Kemper —- who scored 13 points in the second half —- netted 27 points to go along with a team-leading nine rebounds and a team-high five steals.

“Lydia makes things happen with her speed and hustle,” declared Fury. “She came up with the ball a lot of times.”

Drooger (13 second-half points) finished with 15 points and five rebounds, while Andersen (14 points, four rebounds, three assists, three steals, two blocks), Tish (six points, seven rebounds, one block), Kramer (eight assists) and Hermeling (six points, six rebounds, four assists, two steals) also put up impressive statistical numbers.

Kramer made a free throw with 2:51 to play, which put MW at the 100-point mark.

The Lady Jays improved to 7-2 with the win and travel to Thief River Falls Friday. They will play at Itasca on Saturday.

Mesabi Range 22 63

Lady Jays 63 100

Mesabi Range (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Rautio 1-2-9-16, Berhendt 1-3-1-10, Armitage 0-2-4-8, Lenci 1-5-2-15, Elkins 0-5-0-10, Kucza 0-1-2-4. Totals 3-18-18-63.

Minnesota West (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Hermeling 0-3-0-6, Kramer 0-0-2-2, Kemper 2-8-5-27, Gehl 2-9-6-30, Drooger 1-5-2-15, Andersen 0-6-2-14, Tish 0-3-0-6. Totals 5-34-17-100.