By AARON HAGEN
WORTHINGTON -- Avery Van Roekel had one word to describe what just happened.
Van Roekel made a free throw with .5 seconds remaining to send the Minnesota West women's basketball team to a 67-66 victory over Dordt JV in the second day of the 15th Annual Sanford Worthington Basketball Classic on Saturday.
"We have a lot of room for improvement, but that's a nice win," MW head coach Rosalie Hayenga-Hostikka said. "I like winning a lot more than losing."
With the game tied and one second showing on the clock, West had the ball on an out of bounds play.
"We just said what the heck, Avery can outjump just about anybody," Hayenga-Hostikka said. "With a second left, I said chuck it up and jump as high as you can."
Van Roekel had space, and the ball was sent her direction.
"I really just wanted to make a layup and not have to shoot free throws," Van Roekel said. "We executed the play really well. I thought I had the wide open net, but then she got me out of nowhere."
She was fouled and sent to the line for two free throws.
"It was a flashback to regions when Kat (Katherin Ihnen) was shooting free throws," Van Roekel said. "It was like deja vu. I was like, relax, shoot the free throws. I missed the first one. I was like, relax and follow through, it will be alright. I just need that little boost."
The first shot was off the mark.
"Teammates said, 'You got it.' Coach said, 'Follow through, you finish it,'" Van Roekel said. "And I came through."
The second free throw was good, giving the Lady Jays their first victory this season.
"It's really good to get it started and get our freshmen on the same page so we know, hey we are capable of winning games," Van Roekel said. "We can do this, we just have to work together."
It was a fitting end to a game that was tight throughout. The game was tied nine times with 21 lead changes.
"I thought we did some nice things offensively where we executed," Hayenga-Hostikka said. "I thought we had a little bit of poise. They weren't pressing us as much, so we could have that chance a little bit."
West led by six in the fourth, but Dordt came back to take a 63-62 lead with a minute left. On the ensuing possession, Van Roekel (13 points) put back an offensive rebound to give West a one-point advantage. Emily Schroer (18 points) made two free throws with 18 seconds remaining to push the lead to three.
"We just have to learn how to play more together," Van Roekel said. "Coming into this year, it's a completely different team than it was last year. We have a different style of play that we have to learn. We just have play with our teammates and learn who they are and what they like to do."
However, Dordt had the ball and took a timeout with 5.2 seconds left. Out of the break, Lydia Sharplin (17 points) hit a 3 from the top of the key to tie the game with one second showing on the clock.
The Lady Jays -- who had been plagued by turnovers early this year -- committed 28 in the game.
"That's still not very good, but better," Hayenga-Hostikka said. "At least some, not all, but I felt like some of our turnovers were maybe a little more aggressive turnovers. I don't feel like were so scared. We said that too, if you're we're going to turn it over, you might as well turn it over going hard to the basket."
West, however, was able to use a pressing defense to force the Defenders in 32 turnovers.
"I think that's maybe going to be something we're going to have to do," Hayenga-Hostikka said. "They are so much bigger than us that we were going to struggle just to bang with them a little bit. I'm super happy with the press."