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Lady Jays succumb to late rally, lose 80-73

Minnesota West Bluejays.png

WORTHINGTON -- A poor start and worse finish doomed the Minnesota West women’s basketball team here Tuesday night, though in between the squad displayed enough pluck, poise and polish to spark optimism.

To be sure, though, the Lady Jays are a work in progress.

Abby DeWitt scored 21 points and fellow freshman guard Kailyn Groves added 18 as the Northwestern College junior varsity rallied to defeat Minnesota West 80-73 in a non-conference clash at the Center for Health and Wellness.

The visiting Red Raiders used a 14-0 run in the final seven minutes en route to the road victory.

“Oh my gosh, it’s so frustrating,” said West star sophomore Emily Shaffer, who had 20 points and 14 rebounds in her first game since missing two weeks with an ankle injury. “We had it. We had it the whole time. And then I don’t know what happened.”

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The Lady Jays trailed 9-0 before the game was two minutes old, but recovered and seemed in control for much of the second half. West led 71-64 with about seven minutes left to play after Lexi Ramsey’s sweet assist to Melissa Brandt resulted in a layin.

But it was Minnesota West’s last field goal.

“We just stopped doing all the things we were doing the whole game. We just went away from it,” said Shaffer, a former Worthington High star.

Northwestern picked up the defensive intensity in the final quarter and the Lady Jays wilted under the pressure, committing 15 of their whopping 31 turnovers in the final 10 minutes.

Freshman Alanna Goetzinger, a 6-foot center from Chatfield, had 13 points and nine rebounds off the bench for Minnesota West. Ramsey, the energized point guard from Little Rock, Iowa, added 12 points and eight assists.

In the end, however, the turnovers were too much to overcome. Perhaps 10 of the 15 fourth-quarter mistakes came in the final seven minutes when Northwestern rallied from the seven-point deficit.

“You’re not going to win any games doing that,” Hayenga-Hostikka said. “We’ve got to learn how to be strong with the ball.”

Northwestern’s Jayda Knuppe, a freshman from Dell Rapids, S.D., had three clutch baskets during her team’s decisive run in the fourth quarter. She finished with 14 points, while Abigail Clarke added 11.

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Freshman Evelyn Othow of Worthington had 10 points for West, and frosh Melissa Brandt of Jackson County Central High battled through foul problems to net nine.

The Lady Jays are without standout sophomore Emily Schroer, the former Fulda High star who suffered a season-ending knee injury a few weeks ago.

“She was a big part of our offense and ball-handling, so that hurts,” said Hayenga-Hostikka.

Northwestern 24 27 13 16 -- 80

Minnesota West 23 23 19 8 -- 73

NORTHWESTERN (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) -- DeWitt 0-8-5-21, Meyer 1-0-3-6, Clarke 1-2-4-11, Knuppe 0-6-2-14, Groves 4-3-0-18, Pottebaum 0-1-2-4, Van Berkum 0-3-0-6. Totals: 6-23-16-80.

MINNESOTA WEST (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) -- Othow 0-0-10-10, Cassou 0-2-0-4, Brandt 0-3-3-9, Ramsey 0-2-8-12, Emily Shaffer 2-6-2-20, Bernazeau 0-1-2-4, Wilke 0-0-1-1, Goetzinger 0-5-3-13. Totals: 2-19-29-73.

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