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College basketball: Bluejays go two OTs to win seventh straight

BY AARON HAGEN The Globe WORTHINGTON -- Alex Brown said Wednesday's game was tiring. Brown and the Minnesota West men's basketball team needed two overtimes to earn an 88-82 victory over Little Priest Tribal College. "It was very tiring," Brown said.

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Minnesota West men's basketball player Ki'Shawn Syph (33) works around Little Priest Tribal College guard Tyren King. (Tim Middagh/The Globe)

BY AARON HAGEN

The Globe

WORTHINGTON -- Alex Brown said Wednesday’s game was tiring.

Brown and the Minnesota West men’s basketball team needed two overtimes to earn an 88-82 victory over Little Priest Tribal College.

“It was very tiring,” Brown said. “But we got the win, that’s all that matters.”

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Brown scored 22 points and had 12 rebounds while playing nearly 47 minutes on Wednesday as West won it’s seventh straight game.

“Right now, we should be 9-1. It feels really good just to keep it going. We’re confident. We work hard in practice, so we’re just keeping it going,” Brown said. “I don’t think this is the best game of our seven. It’s the most deserving I would say. I think we worked hard at the end. That was a really good team. It’s the most gratifying.”

The Bluejays opened the game on an 11-2 run and didn’t trail until the second overtime. And then, it was for only 11 seconds before West tied the game.

“They are a good team,” Brown said. “No disrespect to them, but I think we were the better team. I think we let them in the game and let them stay in the game. We play them again in a couple of weeks, so it should be another good one here in a couple weeks.”

The Bluejays led 63-60 with six minutes remaining in regulation before a Kuol Chol (15 points, 14 rebounds) free throw sparked a 7-2 run to lead 70-62 with four minutes to go.

However, an Angel Arroyo free throw was the only point in the final four minutes as the Warriors climbed back into the game. LPTC’s Deandre Burnside made a shot with 20 seconds showing on the clock to tie the game at 71 and send it into overtime.

MW’s offensive struggles continued in the first overtime as Arroyo -- who had 17 points in the second half and overtimes -- made a shot, and Brown scored on a drive for the only points.

“We weren’t making open shots and getting into some one-on-one type of things,” Brown said. “Coach called a timeout and said we needed to move the ball. Once we started doing that and getting to the line -- because they were in foul trouble early in the second half -- that was key for us. Just to make sure we’re not settling for shots and going to the line and slow the pace down a little bit.”

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At the same time, Jordan Oliver made two shots for LPTC as the game went into a second overtime tied at 75.

“We don’t want it (to be) that exciting, we want to win and just finish it,” MW head coach Aaron Poor Bear said. “That is a very tough team. They are well coached and they move the ball really well offensively. It’s tough when you don’t have a big man for an offensive rebound to box out. I think we matched up really well with them on the guard side of things. We had rotations on the defense that made the difference for us. We did everything that we needed to do to pull out the win, just not everything we needed to do to extend the lead.”

West finally found some offensive rhythm in the second overtime. Ki’Shawn Syph (12 points) made a shot early and Arroyo scored on a putback to give MW a lead.

“We just went stagnant,” Poor Bear said. “We didn’t move the ball like we should, like we did in the first half. Once we start moving the ball a little bit, I think it started to work in those overtimes. It was just a couple extra passes and that made the difference for us.”

The Warriors hit a 3 to lead 80-79 -- their only lead of the game. Brown made a free throw 11 seconds later to tie the game and Arroyo scored the game’s next five points to push the lead to 85-80.

LPTC made a jumper with 33.9 seconds on the clock to bring the game within one possession.

From there, Brown sealed it with free throws. He hit three of four in the final 14 seconds to seal the win.

“That’s something that we do at the end of each practice, it’s called pressure free throws,” Brown said. “We run if we don’t make them. I’m a little upset with myself that I missed the one at the end. We didn’t shoot the best at the free-throw line today. Coach said at the end of the game that’s the reason why they were able to stay in it. Credit to them. We shoot pressure free throws in practice, so that was a big part of it. We’ve been there before. A couple of games in this win streak have came down to that.”

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After dropping their first three games this season, the Bluejays enter the Holiday break with a 7-3 record.

“Except for the Iowa Lakes game, in the first few games, we were right there,” Brown said. “We certainly could be 9-1 right now. I don’t think there was ever any panic. We just needed to do the little things and we corrected some of those. We still have a long way to go, but we’re going to enjoy this for now.”  

Little Priest Tribal College 32 71 75 82Bluejays 39 71 75 88LITTLE PRIEST TRIBAL COLLEGE (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Washington 1-0-2-5, Steinbronn 1-4-0-11, Cleveland 2-0-0-6, Burnside 2-4-8-22, Brown 0-0-2-2, Dunlap 1-0-2-5, Oliver 1-5-0-13, Gresham 1-4-0-11, Yazzie 1-1-2-7. Totals 10-18-16-82.BLUEJAYS (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Chol 1-4-4-15, Carter 0-1-0-2, Pickford 0-5-0-10, Hudson 1-2-2-9, Brown 2-6-4-22, Syph 2-3-0-12, Arroyo 0-5-7-17. Totals 6-26-18-88.  

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Minnesota West Bluejays Kuol Chol (1) connects over Little Priest Tribal College guard Jalen Dunlap (11) and forward Tyrese Brown (10). (Tim Middagh/The Globe)

Doug Wolter joined the Worthington Globe in December of 1983 as a sports reporter. He later became sports editor, and then news editor and managing editor. In 2006 he moved to Mankato with his wife, Sandy, and served as an editor at the Mankato Free Press. In 2013 he and Sandy returned to Worthington to take up the job of sports editor at The Globe, and they have been in Worthington since.

Doug can be reached at dwolter@dglobe.com.
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