MW BASKETBALL: Bluejays too much for USF
WORTHINGTON -- Dontreal McKinley felt the adrenaline rushing through him. And there was no stopping the freshman on Minnesota West's men's basketball team. McKinley scored a game-high 28 points, sending the Bluejays to an 81-71 victory against th...
WORTHINGTON -- Dontreal McKinley felt the adrenaline rushing through him.
And there was no stopping the freshman on Minnesota West's men's basketball team.
McKinley scored a game-high 28 points, sending the Bluejays to an 81-71 victory against the University of Sioux Falls Junior Varsity on Saturday.
"My adrenaline was going," McKinley said. "I'm a fighter, so when I'm feeling it, I'm going to keep going."
McKinley scored 20 of his points in the second half, but came through in key times for the Bluejays (3-2).
"Most college basketball games come down to someone making a big shot at a big time," MW head coach Justin Heckenlaible said. "Luckily, we have a couple guys that can do that and Dontreal has been that guy here in the first few games. I think we have a lot of guys that are capable of knocking down shots."
MW had a slow start to the game, falling behind 39-37 at halftime.
"I think it's because it's Saturday, we came out slow," McKinley said. "At the half, coach told us to pick the intensity up because we were playing slow. We came out and fought hard. We wanted to come out on top like always. We want to keep a good record at home and defend our home court.
"We had a couple bad practices this week, so I probably thought we were going to come out kind of slow."
If it wasn't for the play of Halden VanWhye, the Bluejays may have been too far out of the game.
The sophomore scored 15 first-half points and finished with 19 in the game.
The Cougars started the second half on a quick 5-0 run, taking a 44-37 lead -- forcing a MW timeout.
Riley Conklin (12 points) later hit a 3 to cap a 17-8 run to open the half.
Trailing 56-45, MW's Demetrius Jackson went to work.
Jackson, who finished with 16 points, rattled off eight consecutive points as the Bluejays were back within five points, 58-53.
"We kind of picked up our intensity a little bit defensively," Heckenlaible said. "That's something that we're going to use at times, and we should maybe do a little bit more. But again, it was a big spark for us to get some easy baskets, especially when the other team maybe struggles a little bit."
The teams traded baskets, and following a basket by Myler Neal (seven points, eight rebounds, five assists), the Bluejays still trailed by four points with nine minutes remaining.
He started the run with a quick steal and layup, cutting the deficit to 61-59.
"Coach always tells me, whoever I'm guarding, to take the ball from them," said McKinley, who finished with three steals. "I just want to go 110 percent and do the best I can on 'D' to help my team win."
He followed with a 3 from the right corner, giving MW the lead.
After a USF basket gave the Cougars the lead right back, McKinley hit a jumper, giving the Bluejays the lead for good.
"Coach said, 'Lets put them away,'" McKinley said. "I saw a couple open opportunities and I took the shot and knocked them down.
"It feels good. You just know. When you shoot that shot and it looks good and feels good, it just goes in."
Corey Styles hit a free throw, Jackson scored off a nice cut and McKinley added another shot on a drive as MW had a four-point lead.
With just less than six minutes remaining, Keith Cutler (17 points) hit a trey for USF to cut the deficit to one point, 69-68.
It would be the last field goal the Cougars hit in the game.
"That's a great effort by our guys," Heckenlaible said. "(Assistant) Coach (Dave) Walker had a stat, they didn't score from the field in the last five minutes. We talked about three more stops and we came down and made a couple big shots at the same time. Those are the difference makers ."
As the Bluejays defense turned up the heat, McKinley was on fire.
He hit a 3 from the top to push the lead to five and later hit another, giving MW a 79-71 advantage en route to the 10-point win.
MW forced 28 turnovers in the game, including key stops in the final minutes.
"Coach told the team that we need to step up and get stops," McKinley said. "That's what it comes down to. We practice defense all the time. We do 30-second drills where we have to get stops. That's what we work on and that's what we executed."
MW will travel to face the same USF team on Friday.
USF JV 39 32 -- 71
MN West 37 44 -- 81
USF JV (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Weah 0-1-0-2, Conklin 2-2-2-12, Richardson 0-3-0-6, Sieperda 0-1-0-2, Nielson 0-3-1-7, Coughlin 0-4-3-11, Bralin 0-2-0-4, Cutler 1-6-2-17, Hughes 0-3-4-10. Totals 3-25-12-71.
MN West (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Styles 0-3-3-9. Mackins 0-1-0-2, Neal 1-2-0-7, Jackson 2-4-2-16, VanWhye 2-4-2-19, McKinley 2-9-4-28. Totals 7-23-12-81.