College men's basketball: Bluejays wilt, lose to Ridgewater
BY AARON HAGEN
WORTHINGTON -- For 30 minutes, Minnesota West was in the perfect position to pick up its second win in the last three games.
But Ridgewater had other ideas.
The Warriors went on a 24-1 run to turn a 12-point deficit into an 11-point lead en route to a 92-72 victory in a men's college basketball game Thursday.
"We can't close out games. It's been a struggle all season, closing out a game," MW head coach Taylor Lupton said. "We put ourselves in the perfect situation. We get there with six minutes, we're right there and we just let them go and we don't realize we can get back in it. Teams have runs, we'll have our run too, but you have to work for it. We just have to learn how to work for it and how to get it. When shots aren't going in, we have to get one in. When things are going bad, we have to stop relying on ourselves and start relying on others. That's the big thing."
West started the game with a 9-1 lead and held an advantage for most of the first half. The lead was nine points (28-19) midway through the half and was as many as six (45-39) late. The Warriors trimmed the deficit to three at halftime.
Out of the break, RW scored four quick points and took a one-point lead.
From there, West turned up the offense. Chris Morales hit a triple, Jaimon Cheek put back an offensive rebound and Jake DeLange hit four quick points as the Bluejays were off and running. Gary Smith put back an offensive rebound and DeShawn Pickford made three free throws to cap a 16-4 run that gave MW a 61-50 advantage.
The Warriors answered with four points, but Christophe Bwayna made a 3 and Smith made two free throws and with 11:35 remaining, West led 66-54.
"We were beautiful, we looked great, it was amazing," Lupton said. "We get in a situation where it's tight and they have a little run and we just decide we don't want to play anymore."
During the next six minutes, the Warriors put the game away. They went on a 24-1 run, which was capped by four consecutive 3-pointers to lead 78-67.
"We got in a slump and they got hot. It's literally the story of our season. A team will get hot and we'll fall into a slump and they see them hit a 3 and we're like, 'Oh crud, the game is over, we're down three.' Everyone has had a comeback," Lupton said. "When you're jogging back, it's very frustrating. When you have a short bench, it's tough."
DeLange made two free throws and Pickford made a 3, but Ridgewater closed on a 12-0 run as the Warriors outscored the Bluejays 38-6 in the final 11:35 to take the win.
"If I'm telling anyone, you have four years of eligibility to play college basketball. You don't know what's going to happen tomorrow," Lupton said. "You can get injured at any second of your life. Look at our team, you can get injured like that. And they don't get a medical redshirt. They're losing those 10 games, so you better play not only for yourself, but play for them. You get to play 100 college games and you have to give it your all on every single one, otherwise there's no point in even playing."
Rodney Lubin had 24 points for the Warriors, while Daviante Ostrander scored 18 as RW shot 56 percent from the field in the second half. MW shot 22 percent in the final 20 minutes.
"They were wide open," Lupton said. "You're going to shoot that when you're wide open."
Bwayna led West with 15 points, Pickford scored 14, Smith added 13 and Cheek had 10 points and eight rebounds.
Ridgewater 42 92
Bluejays 45 72
RIDGEWATER (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Lubin 5-3-3-24, Palma 1-0-3-6, Olson 1-2-3-10, Ostrander 0-5-8-18, Visser 0-7-2-16, Schwinghammer 3-0-0-9, Ross 0-1-0-2, Stephens 1-0-4-7. Totals 11-18-25-92.
BLUEJAYS (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Cheek 0-3-4-10, Pickford 1-3-5-14, Morales 1-1-1-6, DeLange 0-2-4-8, Smith 0-3-7-13, Bwayna 1-5-2-15, Gehl 0-1-2-4, Cruz-Diaz 0-1-0-2. Totals 3-19-25-72.