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Jays shot down: Riverland ends Minnesota West's women's basketball season in regional tourney

After their last game of the regular season, the Minnesota West Lady Jays felt as good about themselves as they had all year. On their home floor, they made an impressive second half rally against undefeated Rochester in a game that came down to a 3-point attempt at the buzzer.

040121 N DG Minnesota West Ladyjays vs Riverland basketball S1.jpg
Minnesota West Ladyjays Natasha Diaz (2) leaps up to clear a shot over Riverland Blue Devils Deaira Keaton during the Thursday night tournament opener in Worthington 04 01 21. (Tim Middagh/The Globe)

WORTHINGTON -- After their last game of the regular season, the Minnesota West Lady Jays felt as good about themselves as they had all year. On their home floor, they made an impressive second half rally against undefeated Rochester in a game that came down to a 3-point attempt at the buzzer.

Head coach Rosalie Hayenga-Hostikka assumed her Lady Jays would be pumped up and determined Thursday night in a Region 13 opener against Riverland in their home gym. But the Jays were a little bit flat, and the Blue Devils prevailed in a 60-55 result.

“Wish I could tell you why,” said Hayenga-Hostikka. “This point in the season, it’s a mental point right now. And everything we went through, everything that happened to us, it just gets to you.”

Minnesota West ended 2021 with a losing record, but there were high points -- the Rochester game being one of them. Even so, in a Thursday postseason contest that they knew they could win, they fell behind the Devils 17-3 in the first quarter and were never quite able to catch up.

“Couldn’t quite get over that hump. It’s hard to get in that big a hole,” Hayenga-Hostikka said.

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The game began well for West as freshman forward Mallory Thorson drained a 3-point shot from the corner for a 3-0 lead. But the Lady Jays got cold after that, and Riverland scored the next 17 points.

The Jays’ offensive struggles continued in the second quarter, and while often unable to get back quickly on defense, they watched the Blue Devils increase their lead to 30-13 with four and a half minutes till halftime.

The score was 37-20 at intermission. West made just 22 percent of its field goals in the first two quarters compared to Riverland’s 52 percent.

Thorson hit another 3-point shot to begin the third quarter and trimmed the margin, but Riverland maintained a 6-point lead with the final stanza to play.

Riverland scored the first seven points of the fourth quarter, but the Jays fought back to a 55-51 deficit on a free throw from Emily Wilke. They never got closer than that, and Riverland came away with its third win of the season against West in four games, including an 89-80 overtime win in their final regular season showdown.

Imani Colon led Riverland scorers with 17 points, as Megan Shanahan had 14 and Deaira Keaton 10. Thorson, who was 4-for-14 from 3-point land, finished with 16. Teammate Jazmin Voehl had 13.

Voehl also had 12 rebounds.

Hayenga-Hostikka said Minnesota West’s game plan was to pound the ball inside to Voehl and have her bounce it back out to her teammates. But Riverland surrounded Voehl every time she touched the ball, and when she kicked it back out, the Jays were impatient.

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“We just settled, long shot after long shot, without following the game plan very well,” Hayenga-Hostikka said.

It was, in the end, a much different feeling in the locker room than what occurred after that last game with Rochester.

“We played so well with so much energy (against Rochester). I thought we were rolling,” Hayenga-Hostikka said.

Riverland 20 37 45 60

Lady Jays 10 20 39 55

RIVERLAND (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) -- Colon 3-4-0-17, Miles 0-3-0-6, Love 0-2-1-5, Keaton 0-5-0-10, Shanahan 4-1-0-14, Rosado 0-2-0-4, Stewart 0-2-0-4. Totals 7-19-1-60.

LADY JAYS (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) -- Thorson 4-6-0-16, Ciaz 0-2-0-4, Christensen 0-1-0-2, Bernazeau 0-0-0-0, Voehl 0-5-3-13, Maybell 1-0-0-3, Garcia 1-2-0-7, Rivera 0-2-0-4, Suttle 0-0-0-0, Wilke 1-1-1-6. Totals 7-15-4-55.

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040121 N DG Minnesota West Ladyjays vs Riverland basketball S2.jpg
Minnesota West Ladyjays Shelby Christensen (4) watches as teammate Mallory Thorson (25) drives past Riverland Blue DevilsCayli Miles (3) to take a shot for two points during the Thursday night tournament opener in Worthington 04 01 21. (Tim Middagh/The Globe)

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