WORTHINGTON -- It was a tough Saturday for the Minnesota West basketball teams.
The Lady Jays had a five-point lead entering the fourth quarter, but Western Wisconsin Technical College came away with a 10-point victory, 75-65.
In the men’s game, the Cavaliers, who entered the game with just one conference victory, defeated a lackluster Bluejay team, 78-76.
Western Tech 75, Lady Jays 65
There is something about the Western Tech defense that gives the Minnesota West women’s basketball team fits.
On Saturday, West committed 35 turnovers -- including in crucial points in the fourth quarter -- as the Cavaliers came away with the road victory.
“That’s the whole game right there,” MW head coach Rosalie Hayenga-Hostikka said. “We had 37 when we played them at their place. We had 20 at halftime and said we had to keep it under 10 in the second half. I don’t know what it is, their defense just swarms the ball. We just panic a little bit.”
WT led 16-12 after the first quarter and pushed the advantage to 13 points midway through the second quarter. But West’s Emily Wilke made three 3-pointers to cut the deficit as the lead was just two points, 38-36, at halftime.
Out of the break, the Lady Jays went on a 12-4 run -- capped by a triple from Lexi Ramsey (12 points, five assists) -- to lead 48-42.
Wilke (12 points) hit one more triple before the quarter break as West led 55-50.
But the Cavs opened the fourth with a 14-2 run that gave them the lead for good.
West was within three, 64-61, with five minutes to go, but Caitlin Young made a 3 to push the lead to six. Macy Mau made a 3 and WT never looked back.
“We lost their shooters a couple times and they were draining them,” Hayenga-Hostikka said. “The other night, they shot 15 of 51 against a 2-3 zone and lost to St. Cloud. Of course here, they drain every one of them. Hats off to them.”
Young was a difference-maker for the Cavaliers. She scored a game-high 26 points and made seven of eight 3-pointers.
“We talked about if you’re on her, don’t leave her, no matter what,” Hayenga-Hostikka said. “That didn’t work very well.”
Jazmin Voehl scored 14 points to lead West, while Evelyn Othow had 10 points and 10 rebounds.
But the story was the Lady Jays’ inability to protect the basketball.
“It’s frustrating. If you turn it over 35 times, you’re not going to win the ballgame. That’s just about a turnover a minute,” Hayenga-Hostikka said. “Turnovers have plagued us all year long. We just get in that mode and then it builds. We panic and we panic some more and then we panic some more.”
It was the second consecutive game for Minnesota West playing against top teams in the Southern Division. A week ago, West suffered a close loss to division-leading Anoka-Ramsey. Western Tech is currently second in the division. Both games, MW had a lead, but both times, the opposing team closed out the victory. The Lady Jays get another chance at A-R on Monday.
“I think we can play with anyone,” Hayenga-Hostikka said. “Now we just have to take care of a little bit of business so that we get to the playoffs. Then who knows what can happen.”
Western Tech 16 38 50 75
Lady Jays 12 36 55 65
WESTERN TECH (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Murphy 2-2-2-12, Mau 1-1-3-8, R. Gabel 0-1-4-6, M. Gabel 1-3-4-13, Young 7-1-3-26, Schmidtknecht 0-0-2-2, Filla 0-1-0-2, Drury 1-0-0-3, Freit 0-1-1-3. Totals 12-10-19-75.
LADY JAYS (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Othow 0-3-4-10, Cassou 0-2-3-7, Brandt 0-4-0-8, Ramsey 2-1-3-12, Voehl 0-5-4-14, Wilke 4-0-0-12, Goetzinger 0-1-0-2. Totals 6-18-15-65.
Western Tech 78, Bluejays 76
Despite trailing by 12 points in the first half, the Western Tech men’s basketball team stayed the course.
The Cavaliers kept with their game plan. They moved the ball offensively. They didn’t settle for rushed shots. Defensively, they were just fine allowing the Bluejays to throw up long-range shots.
And in the end, that worked for Western Tech, who won for just the second time all season in the Southern Division. The Cavs previously defeated Rochester.
“We weren’t jumping to our spots. We were kind of stuck with mud on our feet. We weren’t getting that extra step over,” MW head coach Taylor Lupton said. “(Offensively), guys were standing. We just wanted to drive by them by themselves. It’s been a big learning point all year. We win when we play as a team. It’s just that simple.”
While WT was able to work through its offense, the Bluejays too often settled.
“We shot terrible,” Lupton said. “We had a lot of good looks to start, especially. I think when they weren’t going in, guys thought hero ball was the way to go. And that’s not the way to go.”
West made four of 25 shots from beyond the arc and shot just 37 percent from the field.
“We kept settling and I don’t understand,” Lupton said. “It’s not like we were even close. We were short by feet. It’s not like we were rimming out, we were air balling.”
West led by 12 late in the first half following a three-point play by Jacquez Stoudemire. WT’s Jalen Alexander (14 points) made two 3s to close the half as West led 39-31 at halftime.
After halftime, it was all Cavaliers. They opened on a 21-9 run to take a 50-48 advantage. That was the final lead change in the game.
“We let them come back,” Lupton said. “The one way they come back is hit 3s. We left them open or the guy goes to the right hand 20 times in a game and we don’t figure that out.”
But West never let them get out of their sights. With four minutes remaining, MW’s Elijah Williams put back an offensive rebound with a dunk that appeared it would spark West. On the ensuing possession, Williams had a block and then drew a charge. Chris Morales followed with a pair of free throws, but Western answered with a triple. Morales made a three-point play, but again, WT had the answer.
With 40 seconds remaining, Xavier Dixon put back an offensive rebounds for West as it trailed by two points. WT made a free throw as the teams were separated by three points.
Despite having looks at a 3, the shots were off the mark for West. Emmanuel Akot scored on an offensive rebound with a second remaining, but the Cavs made a free throw to end the game.
Dixon led MW with 17 points, while Stoudemire and Morales each scored 13. Akot finished with 12 points and 12 rebounds.
Brian Huneck had a game-high 19 points for WT, while Jarrell Tarr scored 17 points and had 10 rebounds.
Western Tech 31 78
Bluejays 39 76
WESTERN TECH (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Tarr 0-6-5-17, Kearney 1-2-1-8, Badertscher 0-3-1-7, Huneck 0-6-7-19, Davis 0-2-0-4, Esheit 0-4-1-9, Alexander 4-0-2-14. Totals 5-23-17-78.
BLUEJAYS (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Morales 0-4-5-13, Cheek 0-2-0-4, Dixon 3-4-1-17, Williams 0-2-0-4, Akot 0-4-4-12, Bwanya 1-3-0-9, Stoudemire 0-4-5-13, Tor 0-2-0-4. Totals 4-25-14-76.