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Lady Jays memorable run concludes with finals loss

The Minnesota West women’s basketball team’s drive toward a national championship came to end Saturday as tournament host Rochester shut down the Lady Jays in the second half to post a title-winning 73-53 victory.

The 2022-2023 season still winds up as the best in school history, as Minnesota West finishes with a 30-5 record. Three of those losses came at the hands of Rochester, which lost just once all year on the way to capturing the national crown on its home court.

It was an excellent first half Saturday for the Lady Jays, who had advanced to the finals Friday night by topping top-seeded Owens 76-59. Brooklyn Scheitel-Taylor beat the first-quarter buzzer with a layup to give Minnesota West a 19-17 through the first 10 minutes, and Olivia Hayenga made a putback shot just a split-second before halftime to give the Lady Jays a 34-32 edge at the break.

The second half, however, was a different story as the Yellow Jackets got relentless on defense and forced 21 Minnesota West turnovers over the last two quarters. Rochester got 31 points from tournament MVP Olivia Christianson and 16 more from Ravyn Miles to take down a Lady Jays team that won its first three national tourney games by an average of 20 points.

Tia Murray, playing in her final game for Minnesota West along with fellow sophomores Madisyn Huisman and Dannyn Peterson, led the Jays with 15 points. Olivia Hayenga contributed 13 points and 10 rebounds; she and Murray were both named to the all-tournament team.

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