College basketball: Last-second Akot shot wins for MW Bluejays; Lady Jays fall
BY AARON HAGEN
WORTHINGTON -- In two close and intense games, Minnesota West and Anoka-Ramsey split a college basketball doubleheader Saturday.
The Anoka-Ramsey women pulled away late for a 67-57 victory.
However, the West men scored in the final second to secure an 82-80 overtime win.Men
In the final minutes, Emmanuel Akot had been substituted in and out to rebound and play defense.
But with 5.4 seconds remaining, West coach Taylor Lupton left Akot in the game to play offense.
It was a good thing he did.
Akot took a pass from Gary Smith and made a layup with .3 showing on the clock to send the Bluejays to an 82-80 overtime victory.
“He put me in the last second and he told me to go get a rebound,” Akot said. “I thought I was going to sub back out, but nobody was there to sub me in. We penetrated the ball in and I was there wide open. I was nervous once I went up, but when I shot the layup, I was good to go. We won against a really good team.”
After Anoka-Ramsey’s Jaylen Dunlap (30 points) made two free throws to tie the game at 80, West went on the attack.
“I don’t think I drew anything up for that last one,” Lupton said. “There’s five seconds left, get to the hole, what else am I going to tell you? It’s a tie game, just get to the hole.”
Smith (12 points, eight rebounds) took the ball and had a lane to the hoop. But as the Golden Ram defense collapsed, he dished it to Akot for the game winner.
“I thought he was going up too,” Akot said. “I didn’t even know that I was wide open.”
Both teams had a slow start to the game offensively. The Rams started the game 0-for-16 shooting from the field and didn’t score their first points until Justin Castro (20 points) made a pair of free throws with 10:57 remaining. Dunlap made the team’s first field goal with 8:23 showing on the clock.
However, West wasn’t able to take advantage and only led 26-19 at halftime.
“Going into half with a seven-point lead when the team only scores 19, it’s nice to hold them to 19, but you hope to have like a 20-point lead,” Lupton said.
A-R shot 25 percent in the first half, while West made 30 percent of its shots.
“We were kind of settling on offense,” Akot said. “The shot clock would run down and we would try to go iso and get their own bucket. We weren’t playing ‘we’ ball, we were playing ‘me’ ball and that’s not how we’re going to win games.”
The teams picked up the offense in the second half. MW maintained the advantage, but the Golden Rams battled back to lead 58-57 with 4:01 left. In the final two minutes, the A-R lead was four. But the Bluejays had one final run in them. Jaimon Cheek (14 points, nine rebounds) made six free throws in a span of 1:26 to tie the game at 63. The Rams took back the lead, and with 24.7 seconds left, had a 3-point advantage.
West’s Montrez Hearon (10 points) scored on a drive, and after an A-R free throw, the Bluejays had the ball and a two-point deficit. DeShawn Pickford (12 points) was fouled with 3.3 seconds left and made both free throws to send the game to overtime.
“We all talked to each other and said it’s gametime, it’s crunch time,” Akot said. “We worked all week in practice, we deserve this win no matter what. I kept telling the guys we need to be engaged and locked in and let’s go get this W.”
Emmanuel Tor (12 points, 12 rebounds) started the overtime scoring for MW, but later, a triple by A-R’s DeAndre Jones tied the game at 78 with 30.7 seconds left. After a Pickford basket, Dunlap made his foul shots, setting up Akot’s game winner.
“I feel like this whole week, practice has been engaged,” Akot said. “The past week we went 0-2 at Central Lakes. We were kind of separating from the team. We talked to each other and we came together as a family and we all shared the ball and passed it around. The reason why we won this game is because we shared the ball, nobody wanted to do their own thing.”Anoka-Ramsey 19 69 80Bluejays 26 69 82ANOKA-RAMSEY (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Castro 1-6-7-20, Dunlap 4-4-10-30, Nelson 1-1-1-6, Colon 2-1-0-8, Jones 2-4-0-14, Mudricat Zuberi 0-1-0-2. Totals 10-16-18-80.BLUEJAYS (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Cheek 0-3-8-14, Pickford 0-3-4-12, Smith 0-4-4-12, Morales 0-3-2-8, Akot 0-3-2-8, Heron 0-5-0-10, Bwayna 0-3-0-6, Tor 0-2-8-12. Totals 0-27-28-82.Women
Anoka-Ramsey wanted to speed up the game. And early on, Minnesota West struggled with the frantic pace.
The Lady Jays settled in against the high-scoring Golden Rams, but couldn’t overcome a 10-point deficit in a loss.
“We talked about how we didn’t want to get in a track meet, but it’s not easy to pull the reins back when you see that opening and they get you in that frenzy,” MW head coach Rosalie Hayenga-Hostikka said. “I thought we feel into that trap a little bit, especially in the second quarter. In the beginning we were fresh. Then we allowed it to get out of control there in the second quarter and they got that lead and we were scratching from behind the whole time. They are a hard team to come from behind against.”
West led 12-11 after the first quarter, but A-R scored 23 points to MW’s 13 in the second.
“Part of that is they make you chaotic, they make you hurry on everything that you do,” Hayenga-Hostikka said. “We were probably a little bit tired. It was a high intensity game. I thought we let them set the pace and you know that’s how they play. If you get chaotic, that’s what they want you to do. We didn’t execute offensively very well and we didn’t have discipline to run our plays. We knew that coming in, it’s just a lot easier said than done when we haven’t face the kind of defense they throw at you.”
The Lady Jays had 16 turnovers at halftime.
But out of the break, West started to slow the game. After falling behind by 15 (45-40) midway through the third quarter, the Lady Jays started to chip away. They used an 8-2 run late in the third to cut the deficit to 10 points entering the fourth.
“We tried to prepare them, but we only have two kids who have ever faced that kind of intensity or that kind of game,” Hayenga-Hostikka said. “I thought we were right there. I think we can look at a lot of little things that we didn’t do well that we can do better.”
MW carried that momentum into the final quarter and were within four points, 57-53 following a shot by Avery Van Roekel. West had chances to get closer, but never did as A-R took control.
“I thought we did a good job of not giving up and staying in the game,” Hayenga-Hostikka said. “They can zap your will sometimes when they go on those quick runs. We just didn’t do some little things well. There’s a lot of positives too. They are a good team and we were right there with them.”
Mikayla Homola, who leads the league in scoring, answered with eight points in the next 2:21 to put the game away.
“We missed bunnies, we missed nine free throws, we had 20 turnovers,” Hayenga-Hostikka said. “I thought defensively we did a pretty good job. They only had 67 points and gave 31 up to (Homola). She’s good. She’s just flat out pretty good. If you lose her, she’s going to knock it down.”
Van Roekel led West with 16 points, while Lexie Ramsey and Emily Schroer each scored 12.Anoka-Ramsey 11 34 54 67Lady Jays 12 25 44 57ANOKA-RAMSEY (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Adams 0-4-3-11, Sandifer 12-3-10, Nickens 0-4-3-11, Homola 6-5-3-31, Anderson 0-1-0-2, Craig 0-0-2-2. Totals 7-16-14-67.LADY JAYS (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Unke 0-1-0-2, Mike 0-1-1-3, Pourier 0-2-0-4, Ramsey 2-2-2-12, Schroer 1-3-4-13, Shaffer 1-1-0-5, Van Roekel 0-4-2-16, Rosenberg 0-1-0-2. Totals 4-18-9-57.