The Minnesota West women’s basketball team won its opener Wednesday at the National Junior College Athletic Association Division 3 National Tournament, as the Lady Jays overcame a slow early start and rallied to get past Community College of Rhode Island, 67-55.
Minnesota West, which is seeded seventh in the tournament, will play against No. 2 overall seed Rowan College of South Jersey – Gloucester in a game scheduled for 6 p.m. this evening. A win tonight would advance the Lady Jays into Friday’s semifinals; the title game is set for Saturday. All action will be broadcast from Rochester on 104.3 The Bridge.
Community College of Rhode Island started quickly and had Minnesota West in an early 8-0 hole, and the Lady Jays didn’t get on the scoreboard until nearly halfway through the first quarter. Still, Minnesota West trailed by just three, 15-12, at the end of the first, and though the 10th-seeded Knights went up by eight in the second period, the Jays rallied and were able to get even, 30-30, at the half.
Minnesota West was up by four points at the end of three periods and began to pull away late. A three-pointer by Macie Werdel gave the Lady Jays a six-point edge with nearly four minutes remaining, and subsequent baskets by Tia Murray and Madisyn Huisman helped Minnesota West move ahead by nine and essentially decided the game.
Murray had 16 points for the Lady Jays as well as a team-best 11 rebounds. Huisman had 15 points and Werdel had 14. Minnesota West stepped it up on defense, holding the normally sharp-shooting Community College of Rhode Island to 28.4 % shooting while also forcing 21 turnovers.