For the second consecutive year, the Minnesota West Lady Jays women’s basketball team is headed to the NJCAA Division 3 national semifinals.
Minnesota West exploded for 30 first-quarter points Thursday night and fought off a desperation comeback attempt by Monroe College-Bronx to earn an 89-75 triumph in a quarterfinal game. The Lady Jays, now 29-4 this season, will take on defending national champs Owens in a game scheduled for 5 p.m. Friday.
Three Minnesota West players eclipsed the 20-point mark in scoring against the Express, who were the No. 4 seed in the tournament. The fifth-seeded Lady Jays got 24 points from sophomore Tia Murray, 22 points from sophomore Madisyn Huisman and 21 points from freshman Olivia Hayenga as Minnesota West never trailed in the contest.
Ahead 30-14 after the first quarter, the Lady Jays would build a 42-19 advantage before Monroe College-Bronx began to whittle down the deficit to 14, 48-34, by halftime. Minnesota West, though, would eventually get a 25-point cushion after Murray’s jumper with 3:27 to go in the third period put the Jays out in front by a 68-43 score.
The Express, however, weren’t done by any means, as they cut the lead down to 18 entering the fourth quarter and then got within nine of Minnesota West, 82-73, with 3:25 still remaining. That score held for more than two minutes, and then the Lady Jays made three-of-four free throws following an Express personal foul and technical foul to essentially clinch the game.