By AARON HAGEN
WORTHINGTON -- Minnesota West knew to beat Western Technical College, it had to take care of the basketball.
In Wednesday’s women’s college basketball team, the Lady Jays didn’t.
West turned the ball over 28 times -- including in key points in the game -- as the Cavaliers won 62-57.
“It was really intense,” said MW sophomore M’Kayla Mike. “It all comes down to turnovers. We knew that’s what we had to work on before we even came into the game and that’s what we failed to do, limit our turnovers. Against a good team like that, we won’t win any games if we have 28 turnovers, which we had.”
Coming into the game, head coach Rosalie Hayenga-Hostikka knew the Lady Jays needed to limit turnovers and prevent offensive rebounds. The Cavaliers had 14 offensive boards.
“There were two things we said we had to do, one was we couldn’t turn it over times and we had 28,” Hayenga-Hostikka said. “And we couldn’t give them over 10 offensive rebounds. Both the things we knew would win us the game we didn’t do. If you have 28 possessions where you didn’t even get a shot off, you’re not going to win a college basketball game, nor should you.”
And while turnovers plagued West the entire game, none were more critical in the final minutes.
An offensive rebound putback by Avery Van Roekel (10 points, seven rebounds, six blocks) gave the Lady Jays a 57-55 lead with 2:29 remaining. However, Western Tech answered with a pair of free throws to tie the game. Casey Moger then turned a turnover into a layup to give WT the lead.
“They did the same thing to us over there,” Hayenga-Hostikka said. “They played great defense. For whatever reason, they cause us to panic. Even some of our turnovers were ridiculous. We were just throwing it out of bounds. It’s good news, bad news. It’s frustrating, but the good news is we played that poorly as far as taking care of the ball and we were in the ballgame.”
MW had the ball with less than a minute remaining, but another turnover doomed the Lady Jays. Western Tech made free throws in the final 15 seconds to seal the win.
“We just have to learn to finish the game, that’s all it is,” Mike said. “It’s the little things that count. We had two bad turnovers at the end of the game within two minutes or so and that’s what got them the lead. It’s the little things that really mattered.”
Western Tech, which improved to a perfect 9-0 in the division, played 13 players on Wednesday. West had just a six-player rotation. But Mike, who finished with 12 points, said that wasn’t a factor late in the game.
“With the intensity, I started to lose track of how tired I was because I wanted to win the game,” she said. “I’m sure my teammates felt the same way too. When the momentum is going, you don’t really think about how tired you are.”
The game was close throughout. The Cavs’ biggest lead came early as they led 6-1 to start the game. West led by six (38-32) midway through the third quarter after a triple by Emily Shaffer (game-high 20 points, 15 rebounds).
The Lady Jays are still in a good position to clinch a playoff spot. They close out the regular season with two home games next week, against Ridgewater and Rochester.
“The last time we played (Ridgewater), we started off really slow and had to play from behind,” Mike said. “Rochester, we lost to them the last time, but I don’t think we played with our head on. I feel like if we play with the same intensity and actually finish the game, we should fine.”
Western Tech 10 27 40 62
Lady Jays 13 30 42 57
WESTERN TECH (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Murphy 1-0-0-3, Lawver 0-2-0-4, Moger 0-3-0-6, Lyga 0-7-0-14, R. Gabel 0-4-2-10, M. Gabel 0-1-2-4, Schmidtknecht 0-1-0-2, Minor 0-1-2-4, Koch 1-0-0-3, Young 1-2-5-12. Totals 3-21-11-62.
LADY JAYS (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Mike 1-4-1-12, Ramsey 0-4-1-9, Schroer 1-0-0-3, Shaffer 2-6-2-20, Van Roekel 0-4-2-10, Unke 0-1-1-3. Totals 4-19-7-57.