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Blue Devil men hold off Minnesota West

The Riverland men’s basketball team looked dominant for most of the night, but it had to hold off Minnesota West (9-10 overall, 3-3 MCAC South) to get a 65-56 win in Riverland Gym Wednesday.

West pulled to within 54-52 with 2:32 left in the game, but Denzel Smith had the answer when his baseline three-pointer rolled in to make it 57-52 with 1:51 left. Smith, who had 14 of his 16 points in the second half, four rebounds, and four assists, added two free throws to make it 59-52 with 1:27 left.

“We started turning the ball over when the pressure came and I don’t know why but we were panicking,” Smith said. “When (Taylor) Morgan fouled out I knew I needed to take over.”

The Blue Devils (11-9 overall, 2-4 MCAC South) led by as many as 17 in the second half as their defense was solid.

“That was the best defense we’ve played all year,” RCC head coach Scott Koenigs said. “We were switching on everything in the first half and they weren’t ready for it.”

MW 16 40 — 56

RCC 25 40 — 65

RCC scoring: Denzel Smith, 16; Jordan Osberg, 14; Zach Bunch, 9; Marcus Ratliff, 9; Taylor Morgan, 8; Andrew Kaiser, 7; Wayne Canady, 1; Cody Meyer, 1; field goals: 52 percent (23-for-44); three-pointers: 36 percent (5-for-14); free throws: 56 percent (14-for-25); rebounds: 35 (Bunch, 10); turnovers: 22