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College men's basketball: Pickford, Bluejays win in OT

BY AARON HAGEN The Globe WORTHINGTON -- With 1.8 seconds showing on the clock and the game tied, Minnesota West's DeShawn Pickford stepped to the free-throw line. He had two foul shots. Make one and the Bluejays likely win. Miss them both and the...

3994657+MN West Mens BB vs Fergus Falls 2 web.jpg
Tyrone Walker (13) of Minnesota West shoots over MState-Fergus Falls' Chris Tungseth (23) Wednesday in Worthington. (Tim Middagh/The Globe)

BY AARON HAGEN

The Globe

WORTHINGTON -- With 1.8 seconds showing on the clock and the game tied, Minnesota West’s DeShawn Pickford stepped to the free-throw line.

He had two foul shots. Make one and the Bluejays likely win. Miss them both and the game goes into a second overtime.

Pickford left no doubt, making both shots as West earned a 94-92 overtime victory against Minnesota State-Fergus Falls Wednesday night.

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“I’ll just say that my team trusted me,” Pickford said. “It was a desperate play and I got the ball in my hands. I practice free throws in practice, so they just came easily to me to win the game for my team.”

The Bluejays are no stranger to overtime games this year. In fact, they’ve played a double overtime game and went to extra time against the Spartans earlier in the conference season.

“That was a crazy game,” MW’s Ki’Shawn Syph said. “It was just another overtime for us. We’re pretty used to it. All of us guys are used to the game. We play together as a good team and a humble team, at that. We’ve played good this year and this game also.”

Syph scored six of the team’s 10 points in overtime and finished with 17 points.

“I don’t know why, but the ball went to my hands,” Syph said. “Sure enough I scored. That’s what I had to do for my team to get the W and that’s what we did tonight.”

West led much of the first half and took a 42-41 lead into the break, despite 17 first-half points by Fergus Falls’ Chris Tungseth.

Out of the break, West led 48-44. FF answered with an 11-0 run to go ahead 55-48.

“The way we came out, we were sluggish,” Pickford said. “But then we started picking it up and having trust in each other and communicate more. Then we just kept on going from there.”

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With 2:13 remaining in regulation, the Spartans led 79-74.

“It was like the Riverland game, we were up 21 and what did we do? We came back,” Syph said. “You have to believe. That’s what our team is focused on, believing and being humble. One play at a time. One stop at a time. That’s all we talk about in the huddle, one play, one stop. If we get that done we’ll win the game. And we won the game.”  

Pickford answered with a drive in the lane and Tyrone Walker made two free throws to pull West within one. Austin Miller made a free throw in 1:10 left to push the lead back to two points. Pickford made two free throws to tie the game before Miller made a shot with 43 seconds left.

Pickford hit a triple to take an 83-82 lead and Jeffery Hudson made a free throw to give West a two-point advantage. However, Miller scored on a drive with 7.1 seconds remaining to send the game to overtime.

“What goes through our mind as a team is one stop and defense,” Syph said. “Crash the boards. Defense is what wins games. Without defense, we won’t be where we’re at right now.”

The teams traded baskets in overtime, and with 17.4 seconds on the clock, Miller made a free throw to tie the game at 92 all. West had a scramble on the opposite end before the ball ended up in Pickford’s hands. He drew a foul and made the free throws to seal the win.

Chol, Pickford, Hudson and Syph each played more than 36 minutes in the game for West.

“In the games, it’s easy because we get up and down in practice,” Syph said. “So it’s just a game.”

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According to MW head coach Aaron Poor Bear, it’s more than just conditioning that aids the Bluejays.

“The kids play with a big heart,” Poor Bear said. “I can’t tell you one that’s going to let me down. Whoever I put in, I know they are going to give me 100 percent effort. Win or lose I know that’s what they are going to do, give me everything on the floor and that’s all we can ask of them. They are playing for each other, they are playing for their school and that’s what you want, good, well rounded team basketball.”

Chol led West with 25 points and 15 rebounds. Pickford scored 18, while Alex Brown and Walker each had 11 points. Hudson had 11 rebounds. Tungseth led the Spartans with 28 points, while Miller scored 24.

“We’re playing smart basketball,” Poor Bear said. “The guys are able to move offensively. We’re adjusting to each other constantly. Sometimes when shots aren’t falling, we try to find different ways of scoring. We’re very versatile that way. I like that when they have leadership and someone else is taking the leadership, someone else is taking the bull by the horns so it’s not just one guy that’s always scoring.”

Minnesota West, which has now won six consecutive games, is at Western Wisconsin Tech on Saturday.

“We’re not satisfied. We’re looking to make it to the tournament and try to win it,” Pickford said. “Coach always tells us we have a target on our back. We prepare in practice, going hard day and night and just keep going forward.”

Fergus Falls 41 84 92

Bluejays 42 84 94

FERGUS FALLS (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Miller 2-5-8-24, Harris 0-4-2-10, Priem 2-4-1-15, Tungseth 6-3-4-28, Solberg 1-2-4-11, Lemke 0-1-2-4. Totals 11-19-21-92.

BLUEJAYS (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Chol 0-10-5-25, Pickford 2-4-4-18, Hudson 0-2-1-5, Preston 1-1-0-5, Brown 2-2-1-11, Snelling 0-0-2-2, Syph 0-8-1-17, Walker 1-3-2-11. Totals 6-30-16-94.

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