GPAC schedule prepared DWU for FirestormThe Dakota Wesleyan women’s basketball team is close to the bottom of the Great Plains Athletic Conference.
By: Justin Rust, The Daily Republic
The Dakota Wesleyan women’s basketball team is close to the bottom of the Great Plains Athletic Conference.
The Tigers were 7-7 overall and 1-6 in the GPAC going into their game against Arizona Christian Saturday. The Tigers’ 1-6 conference record put DWU in second-to-last place in the GPAC.
DWU has even lost its last five GPAC games with its best point total coming against No. 5 Morningside in a 73-64 loss.
But yet, DWU was able to knock off Arizona Christian 116-60 Saturday, a team that scored an NAIA Division II women’s basketball record with 140 points on Dec. 12 against California Institute of Technology.
The 116 points is a record for points scored in a game for DWU.
Arizona Christian had the nation’s second-leading scorer, Steffani Liscum, who averaged 23.5 points per game. The Firestorm also averaged 80.29 points per game, which was fourth-best in the nation.
But the Firestorm were also 4-9 overall coming into Saturday’s contest.
“Their coach was surprised that we only have one win in the GPAC,” DWU coach Jason Christensen said. “This game shows how tough our schedule is night in and night out.”
Despite beating Arizona Christian by 56, Christensen was not about to take anything away from the Firestorm, though.
“Anytime a team scores 140 points, they are OK,” he said. “The opponent they were playing wasn’t a very good team, but they still put up 140 points, and that is still pretty good in women’s basketball.”
Even though Arizona Christian averages the fourth-most points in the nation, two teams DWU has already played are above the Firestorm on the same list.
Fellow GPAC member Briar Cliff, which beat DWU 96-70 earlier in the year, is third in the nation with 83.83 points per game. Jamestown, which beat DWU 96-52 on Nov. 11, is second in the nation with 86.50 points per game.
“It all boils down to … their schedule is not like our schedule,” Christensen said. “This tells you how tough it is in the GPAC. If this is not an indicator, I don’t know what is.”
The GPAC has always been a traditional strong women’s basketball conference. In the last 11 years, the GPAC has won 10 women’s basketball titles.
“We are toward the bottom of the GPAC and we beat a team out of conference like this, and it shows why the GPAC has won it the last 10 of 11 years,” Christensen said. “The importance of winning the game down here shows why the GPAC gets five teams in the national tournament.”
The record-setting win may have come against a team with a losing record, but the victory still gave the DWU players a good amount of confidence as the team goes into the second half of the year.
“To me, it just makes me feel like our record doesn’t really mean anything because we are going to come out and play hard,” DWU’s Whitnee Clayton said. “We just play hard every single time. Just because our record is 1-6 in the conference doesn’t mean they can overlook us or underestimate us.”