Hot shooting propels DWU women over Northwestern
In front of a near capacity crowd, the Dakota Wesleyan University women's basketball team torched the Corn Palace nets.
The No. 10-ranked Tigers shot 53 percent from the field and won their 10th straight game with an 81-60 Great Plains Athletic Conference victory over No. 9-ranked Northwestern College on Wednesday. DWU improved to 25-4 and 16-3 in the GPAC to move into sole possession of second place in the conference standings with one game remaining in the regular season.
"We shot the ball real well and that's the difference in the game," DWU head coach Jason Christensen said. "Defensively, we were really good, but we just had a tough time rebounding. They're the most athletic team we've played all year."
DWU opened the game on a 20-9 run and led 38-27 at halftime after hitting 8-of-12 3-pointers for 66 percent. The Tigers finished 12-of-24 from behind the arc, while Northwestern was held to 38 percent shooting from the field and 1-of-18 from deep for 5.6 percent.
After falling to Northwestern 69-56 in Orange City, Iowa on Jan. 10, the Tigers haven't lost since and were eager to avenge the previous defeat, according to point guard Rylie Osthus.
"We were hungry and we stressed coming out ready to play," said Osthus, who recorded a double-double with 14 points and 10 assists. "We started off with a lot of energy and it just carried over. When you start making shots then you start having fun. That's big for us."
In the second half, DWU continued to make shots and outscored Northwestern 21-17 in the third quarter. The Tigers committed just one turnover in the second half and held a comfortable double-digit lead for a majority of the contest.
"They shot it extremely well and the first quarter was a perfect storm against us," Northwestern head coach Chris Yaw said. "We fought hard but they made shots. Any team that's talented, you don't want to get behind. It's an uphill climb when you fall behind a good team like that."
Amber Bray led the Tiger offense with a game-high 21 points on 8-of-10 shooting from the field, including four first-half 3-pointers. Kynedi Cheeseman was right behind Bray with 20 points on 8-of-12 shooting and Ashley Bray added nine points and five rebounds as eight different Tigers scored in the win.
"Taking care of the ball helped us. We limited some of their possessions with that," Christensen said. "I thought Kynedi did a really good job of taking the game over in the second half and getting to the rim when she needed to."
Christensen also had high praise for the Corn Palace crowd.
"What a great atmosphere. This was the biggest crowd we've played in front of all year," Christensen said. "It was a great crowd and our fans were awesome."
Northwestern (20-7, 15-4 GPAC) was led by Darbi Gustafson's 18 points. The Ethan native went 8-of-9 from the field and added six rebounds, while Renee Maneman tossed in 14 points.
The win means the Tigers hold the inside track for the postseason tournament's second seed. DWU needs a win over No. 2 Concordia on Saturday or a Northwestern loss. If DWU loses and the Red Raiders beat Doane, Northwestern would hold the second seed by virtue of a tiebreaker against Hastings.
No. 10 Dakota Wesleyan University 81, Northwestern College 60
NC (20-7, 15-4 GPAC): Renee Maneman 6-15 2-2 14, Paige Danner 1-9 1-2 3, Kassidy De Jong 0-7 1-2 1, Darbi Gustafson 8-9 2-3 18, Haley Birks 1-3 4-4 6, Sammy Blum 0-3 0-0 0, Anna Kiel 3-7 2-2 7, Jordan Kruse 1-1 0-0 2, Totals: 22-59 15-20 60.
DWU (25-4, 16-3 GPAC): Rylie Osthus 4-10 5-5 14, Ashley Bray 4-7 0-0 9, Kynedi Cheeseman 8-12 1-3 20, Chesney Nagel 0-0 0-0 0, Amber Bray 8-10 1-1 21, Madison Mathews 1-4 0-0 3, Mateya Walder 0-1 0-0 0, Makaela Karst 1-1 0-0 2, Sarah Carr 2-6 0-0 6, Jessica Mieras 3-7 0-0 6, Totals: 31-58 7-9 81.
NC 14 27 44 60
DWU 22 38 59 81
3-point goals: NC 1-18 (Katie Vander Molen 1-4, Danner 0-4, Maneman 0-3, De Jong 0-3, Birks 0-1, Blum 0-3), DWU 12-24 (Amber Bray 4-6, Cheeseman 3-6, Carr 2-3, Osthus 1-2, Ashley Bray 1-3, Mathews 1-3, Mieras 0-1); Rebounds: NC 30 (De Jong 10), DWU 21 (Nagel 5); Assists: NC 8 (Maneman 4), DWU 21 (Osthus 10); Steals: NC 4 (De Jong 2), DWU 3 (Nagel 1); Blocks: NC 2 (Vander Molen 1), DWU 4 (Osthus 1); Fouls: NC 17, DWU 18; Fouled out: NC (none), DWU (none); Turnovers: NC 7, DWU 9.