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Big win needed for Tigers

Dakota Wesleyan's Brittany Hills goes up for a shot against No. 2 Concordia in a Great Plains Athletic Conference game Sunday at the Corn Palace in Mitchell. The Tigers upset the Bulldogs 72-61.

With five minutes to go in the Dakota Wesleyan vs. Concordia game, the Corn Palace was abuzz.

Every time the Tigers scored a bucket, fans answered with a cheer. And in contrast when the referees made a call the fans didn't approve of, the fans jeered.

Simply put, the game was intense, and everyone in the Corn Palace knew it, including Dakota Wesleyan women's basketball team.

"We knew it would be crazy down the stretch, especially with our fans at home," DWU forward Kim Johnson said. "But we just stayed composed and did what we had to do."

The junior, who is averaging 18.7 points per game, was named the Great Plains Athletic Conference women's basketball player of the week, announced Monday.

DWU coach Jason Christensen said his team took care of business Sunday when it beat No. 2-ranked Concordia University 72-61.

The victory marked the first time this season the DWU women knocked off a top 10 opponent.

Prior to the Concordia game, the Tigers lost 12 straight games against teams ranked in the top 10.

Sunday was also the first time DWU beat Concordia since January 16, 2011.

"Instead of playing tentative like we have been doing in the past against these top 10 teams, we played to win," Christensen said. "I can't say enough about these kids. They really laid it all out on the floor."

The Tigers have come close to upsetting top 10 teams the past two seasons but just could not seem to get over the hump.

The closest of those games was a 69-66 defeat to then No. 10-ranked Northwestern College on Jan. 9.

Christensen, who is in his third season as the head coach, added that this was the biggest win of his career at DWU.

"It feels good to get a victory like this, but I don't think this program and this coaching staff will be satisfied until we get to the national tournament."

The Tigers now have 16 wins this season and are 7-5 in the GPAC.

In Christensen's first season as head coach the Tigers were 6-25, last season the team was 16-15 overall.

"Three years ago when I took this job I told them this was going to take some time. We played a lot of freshman that first year, and we took our lumps," Christensen said. "Last year, we got better as the season went on and it's paying off right now."

The Tigers look to earn in 17th win of the year as they take on Mount Marty at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Corn Palace in Mitchell.