Women's college basketball: Minnesota West blows by Nassau at nationals

BETHLEHEM, Pa. -- One day is all it took. Less than 24 hours after a miserable offensive performance in the first round of the NJCAA Division III National Tournament, Minnesota West was lights out in its consolation semifinal game against Nassau ...

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FILE PHOTO Minnesota West's Kristen Andersen (40) drives in a for a shot during a Lady Jays home contest earlier this season. The sophomore from Worthington scored 24 points on 9-of-11 shooting in her team's 86-48 win over Nassau Friday.

BETHLEHEM, Pa. - One day is all it took.

Less than 24 hours after a miserable offensive performance in the first round of the NJCAA Division III National Tournament, Minnesota West was lights out in its consolation semifinal game against Nassau Friday. The Lady Jays made 29 of their 58 total shots from the floor and went 25-for-31 at the free throw line in an 86-48 thrashing of the Lions.

“That’s basketball for you,” said Lady Jays coach Mike Fury. “I really can’t explain it. I don’t know if we were just a little more relaxed having already played a game out here or what it was. We just had such an aggressive attack like we’re capable of.”

In doing all of that, they employed an unselfish scheme that finished with 21 assists as opposed to only two for their opponents. Bridget Kramer led the way with nine.

“We got that balance that we’ve talked about,” Fury said. “Everyone just found each other.”


It wasn’t just the offense that was red hot, either. Sixth-seeded West put together a suffocating defensive showing that limited No. 7 Nassau to 19-of-74 shooting from the field. The Lady Jays also held a 41-37 advantage in the rebounding department. Fury was particularly pleased with his team’s ability to slow down Lions guard Moe Jones - who fouled out just 50 seconds into the second half - and their high-scorer from the previous evening, Jayda Hyatt.

“Our defense did a really nice job,” he said. “They’ve got some good players and we just did a really good job on them.”

The Lady Jays came out hot in the first half, going 14-of-30 from the field before the break.

Kristen Andersen had a lot to do with that big start when she scored 15 points on 5-for-6 shooting in the opening 20 minutes. She finished with a game-high 24 points on 9-of-11 from the floor and seven rebounds. Her old-fashioned three-point play at the 16:37 mark helped give West a 9-4 lead that only grew from there. When she added a layup with 11:13 to go before the half, the Lady Jays were on a 12-2 run and led 14-4.

“She’s kind of our leader that always seems to get us going,” Fury said.

The Lions tried to stay in it. Jenny Pachecek and Jones helped keep the deficit at 10 with time winding down. But then West got hot from behind the arc.

First it was Brittney Hermeling draining a three from the corner. Then, one trip later, Kramer added another. A beautiful pass by Kramer on a backdoor cut by Andersen resulted in a layup and a three-point play a short time later and again West was on a run. It reached 15-2 before Pechacek stopped the bleeding on a three with 42 seconds left in the half.

That wasn’t nearly enough to slow the Lady Jays, however. They held a comfortable 43-22 lead at the intermission.


The distance between the two squads got nothing but bigger as the game wore on. Another pretty dish from Kramer - who tallied nine assists - to Andersen pushed the lead to 25 at 49-24. After a Pachecek three at the 14:57 mark, Andersen scored seven quick points with Bailey Tish adding four to lead West on a 13-0 run to push the lead to 67-29. The gap grew to 41 when Hermeling scored with just a little more than 10 minutes to go.

A long trey for Dani Hermeling with 7:38 to play followed by a Megan Westrum layup less than a minute later meant all nine players on the Minnesota West roster had scored.

“That’s another plus that helps us for tomorrow,” Fury said. “We were able to get everyone some rest, which is important when you’ve got three games in three days. And when everybody scores, that’s always fun to see.”

Brooke Henning and Brittney Hermeling both notched double-doubles for the Lady Jays. Henning had 16 points and 10 rebounds with Hermeling scoring 14, rebounding 10 and contributing seven dimes. Melissa Gehl nearly hit double figures with nine points Tish and Sonja Peters scored six and five off the bench to lead West’s advantage of 18-9 among the reserves.

Pachacek finished with 12 points to lead the Lions. Hyatt scored 11 and pulled down a game-high 14 boards.

The Lady Jays (25-6 overall) advance to the consolation championship game against MCAC fellow Mesabi Range (17-13 overall), which is seeded fifth. The Lady Norse, who hail from the Northern Division, never met up with Minnesota West during the regular season.

“We’ve watched them a couple of times,” Fury said. “It will be fun to play them in kind of a Minnesota championship game.”

Nassau 22 48


Lady Jays 43 86

NASSAU (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) - Harris 0-1-0-2, Pechacek 2-3-0-12, Chery 0-3-0-6, Jones 0-3-2-8, Hyatt 0-3-5-11, Ingram 0-1-0-2, Gales 0-1-0-2, Grant 0-2-1-5. Totals 2-17-8-48.

LADY JAYS (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) - Henning 0-6-4-16, Gehl 0-3-3-9, Andersen 0-9-6-24, B. Hermeling 1-3-5-14, 1-1-0-5, D. Hermeling 1-0-0-3, Westrum 0-2-0-4, Peters 0-1-3-5, Tish 0-1-4-6. Totals 3-26-25-86.

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