Tiger women seal GPAC playoff spotThe Dakota Wesleyan University women’s basketball team used key free throws late in the game to hold off Nebraska Wesleyan University 65-62 in a Great Plains Athletic Conference matchup Sunday at the Corn Palace. The pressure of making the playoffs for the Tigers ended Saturday, as Concordia defeated Dordt, guaranteeing the Tigers at least a eighth seed in the upcoming GPAC postseason playoffs.
By: OWEN REITZEL, The Daily Republic
The Dakota Wesleyan University women’s basketball team used key free throws late in the game to hold off Nebraska Wesleyan University 65-62 in a Great Plains Athletic Conference matchup Sunday at the Corn Palace.
The pressure of making the playoffs for the Tigers ended Saturday, as Concordia defeated Dordt, guaranteeing the Tigers at least a eighth seed in the upcoming GPAC postseason playoffs.
DWU looked to be control of the contest in the second half, holding a 52-42 lead with 8:32 to play.
But the Prairie Wolves mounted a slow but sure comeback. With just over six minutes in the contest, two free throws from NWU’s Shea Rasmussen got the Prairie Wolves to within 54-50.
The Tigers went on a 5-2 run, capped by a 3-point basket by Amanda Hart to expand the lead to 59-52 with 5 minutes to play. Hart tied the school’s all-time 3-point baskets made record. She now has 95 in her career.
A 3-point shot by Alex Wilson and three free throws from Rasmussen pulled NWU to within a point at 59-58 after Hart’s 3-pointer.
Two free throws from the DWU’s Whitnee Clayton moved the lead back to three points, but a layup from Rasmussen cut the Tiger advantage to 63-62.
With 12 seconds remaining, DWU’s Brittany Hills was fouled, and the guard calmly sank both free throws.
The Prairie Wolves had two more chances to tie the game but both came up short.
“You just can’t think about it,” Hills said of late-game heroics. “You just shoot them and hope they go in.”
Hills said she’s been practicing for pressure situations.
“At the end of every practice, coach (Jason Christensen) makes me shoot two free throws, and if I don’t make them both, the team runs,” Hills said.
The Tigers opened the game with a 15-5 burst capped by a three-point play from Katie Johnson. That expanded the lead to 30-14 with four minutes until halftime.
DWU went into halftime with a 31-18 advantage.
“We knew that we had made the playoffs coming into the game, but we knew that if we could get one more win this year we would have a winning season,” Christensen said. “We’re starting to meet our goals now. One of our goals was to have a winning season, another was to make the playoffs and another goal was to get a playoff win. We’ll see what happens.”
As far as the game, Christensen didn’t think his team could get into a rhythm in the second half.
“It just didn’t look we had a lot of energy,” Christensen said. “We had a Wednesday and a Friday game, and it seemed like we lost some of our legs.”
Clayton led the Tiger attack with 15 points and nine rebounds, followed by Kim Johnson with 13 points. Hills and Taylor Piper each handed out four assists.
DWU (16-12, 7-11 GPAC) was 24-of-63 for 38 percent from the floor and 14-of-17 for 82 percent from the free throw line.
The Tigers out rebounded the Prairie Wolves 38-36 and turned the ball over 15 times.
“We played much better in the second half,” NWU coach Eric Jensen said. “We were standing around too much in the first half and turned the ball over. We fixed some things at halftime and we have to credit ours girls. It’s been a rough season, but they came out and continued to fight in the second half.”
NWU (5-18, 2-16 GPAC) was led by Rasmussen with 18 points. Melissa Bennett and Payton Everett each added 10 points. Mallory Shanahan pulled down 10 rebounds and Janelle Baal dished out six assists.
The Prairie Wolves made 22 of 53 field goals for 42 percent and 11 of 15 free throws for 73 percent. NWU turned the ball over 23 times.
DWU travels to Orange City, Iowa, Wednesday to take on Northwestern.
DAKOTA WESLEYAN UNIVERSITY 65,
NEBRASKA WESLEYAN UNIVERSITY 62
DWU (16-12, 7-11 GPAC)
Elizabeth Lamb 3-10 2-2 8, Taylor Piper 1-5 0-0 2, Brittany Hills 2-6 3-3 8, Kim Johnson 6-8 1-2 13, Brittany Pritchard 2-3 0-0 4, Amanda Hart 2-14 0-0 5, Celeste Beck 1-3 0-0 3, Katie Johnson 1-3 5-5 7, Whitnee Clayton 6-11 3-5 15. Totals: 24-632 14-17 65.
NWU (5-19, 2-17 GPAC)
Shea Rasmussen 5-15 6-8 18, Janelle 1-4 0-0 3, Mallory Shanahan 3-4 0-0 6, Melissa Bennett 5-11 0-1 10, Queen Ohamara 1-4 4-4 6, Hannah Marshall 0-0 0-0 0, Emily Leines 0-2 0-0 0, Alex Wilson 3-4 1-2 9, Brooke Podtburg 0-0 0-0 0, Payton Everett 4-9 0-0 10, Morgen Duren 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 22-53 11-15 62.
Halftime DWU 31, NWU 18
3-point shots DWU 3-23 (Hart 1, Hills 1, Beck 1), NWU 7-17 Rasmussen 2, Wilson 2, Everett 2, Baal 1. Rebounds; DWU 38 (Clayton 9), NWU 36 (Shanahan 10). Assists; DWU 17 (Piper 4, Hills 4), NWU 16 (Baal 6). Turnovers; DWU 15, NWU 23. Blocks; DWU 3 (Lamb 1, Pritchard 1, Clayton 1). Steals; DWU 12 (Hills 4), NWU 9 (Bennett 5). Fouls; DWU 14, NWU 14. Fouls out; DWU None, NWU Bennett. Technical fouls DWU 1 – Bench.