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Lady Jays take out Owens, will play for national title

The Lady Jays weren’t sure last week if they’d even be selected for the NJCAA Division 3 Women’s Basketball National Tournament.


Now they’re headed to the championship game.


Minnesota West led by 10 at halftime and survived a quick second-half start by Owens, then opened up plenty of breathing room as they earned a 76-59 victory in a Friday semifinal matchup. The Lady Jays will be a part of an all-Minnesota final as they'll take on a familiar foe in tournament host Rochester, which defeated Riverland 62-43 in the other semifinal. The Yellow Jackets, now 26-1 on the year, have defeated 30-4 Minnesota West twice this season.


After a frenetically paced first quarter, the Lady Jays had a narrow 21-19 edge, and they were able to add on to that advantage in the second quarter. The lead grew to 14 points at 40-26 after a Tia Murray jumper with 1:26 left before halftime, but Owens – the tournament’s top seed and last year’s national champion – scored the final four points of the quarter.


The Express proceeded to come out sharp to begin the third stanza and promptly cut the deficit to four, 40-36. Minnesota West, however, kept its composure and answered with a seven-point spurt of its own, and that lead would grow to 16 points at 56-40 after Murray hit a 3-pointer with 3:44 left in the quarter. The Lady Jays finished the third up by 13 and the closest that Owens would get the rest of the way was 12.


Murray led the Lady Jays in scoring with 23 points and in rebounding with 15. Olivia Hayenga had 15 points, 10 rebounds and five assists, Madisyn Huisman contributed 13 points, five rebounds and six assists and Dannyn Peterson also added 13 points as well as five rebounds. Brooklyn Scheitel-Taylor had eight assists and seven rebounds as well.


The Lady Jays-Yellow Jackets game is scheduled to get underway at 5 p.m. Saturday. Coverage of the game on 104.3 The Bridge will begin with a pre-game show at 4:30 p.m.






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