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DWU women drop GPAC opener to No. 5 Briar Cliff

The Dakota Wesleyan women's basketball team got quite the test in the team's Great Plains Athletic Conference opener Saturday at the Corn Palace.

Briar Cliff, which is the No. 5 ranked team in the NAIA Division II coaches poll, beat DWU 96-70 Saturday at the Corn Palace.

Early on, it looked like a blowout might ensue as the Chargers reeled off the opening nine points of the game.

Briar Cliff expanded on the lead to 35-19, but DWU fought back to cut the Charger's advantage to 46-37 going into halftime.

Briar Cliff employed a full-court press defense, which led to 27 turnovers. Sixteen of those 26 turnovers came in the first half, which was the key to the game, according to DWU coach Jason Christensen.

"The key when you play a good team like this is turnovers," he said. "We can't have 27 turnovers against a good team like this."

The Tigers tried to stay close. Taylor Piper hit a free throw and basket with two minutes into the second half to pull to within 48-40.

But the Chargers got 3-pointer from Mattie Murren and Kylie Dilla, and two free throws from Kristen Twait to build a 56-40 lead.

But DWU battled back.

The Tigers cut the lead to 60-49 as Amanda Hart and Elizabeth Lamb hit a 3-pointer each, and Piper scored four points. But that was close as DWU would get.

Briar Cliff went on a 13-4 run and a 73-53 lead to put the game away.

"I thought we did well in the other parts of our game," Christensen said. "We were down only one in rebounding for the game. For the most part we shot well.

"If we take care of the ball, it's a different game. With the 27 turnovers, we gave them 27 more opportunities to score and you can't do that against a good team like them."

DWU, which is 3-2 and 0-1 in the GPAC, was 23-of-59 for 39 percent from the field, and 14-of-23 for 61 percent from the free throw line.

Briar Cliff coach Mike Power said his team's defense led the way.

"I think we wore them down with our defense and the number of people we play," Powers said. "We're blessed to play 10 players and when we are healthy it'll be 12 kids that we can rotate in. It's the defensive pressure that wears on people."

The Chargers had five players score in double figures, led by Murren's 18 points. Megan Salcedo had14 points, Avon native Kela Cihak and Summer Gordon both scored 13 points and Dilla added 12 points and six assists. Sara Reeves dished out five assists.

Briar Cliff (6-1 overall, 2-0 GPAC) was 31-of-64 for 48 percent from the floor and 25-of-30 for 83 percent from the free throw line.

The Chargers outrebounded the Tigers 39-38 and committed 17 turnovers.

DWU plays Tuesday at York, Neb., against York College.

Briar Cliff 96, Dakota Wesleyan 70

DWU (3-2 0-1)

Taylor Piper 4-8 5-7 13; Amanda Hart 5-15 2-2 17; Celeste Beck 2-3 0-0 5; Kim Johnson 1-2 1-2 4; Brittany Pritchard 1-4 2-2; Elizabeth lamb 3-11 0-1 8; Brittany Hills 2-6 0-1 4; Katie Johnson 3-3 0-1 6; Whitnee Clayton 2-7 4-7 8. Totals: 23-59 14-23 70.

Briar Cliff (6-1 2-0)

Kelsey Evans 1-4 2-4 4; Kela Cihak 4-9 3-3 13; Kylie Dilla 4-10 2-2 12; Megan Salcedo 4-6 6-6 14; Kristen Twait 1-3 4-4 6; Ashley Zobel 0-2 1-2 1; Mattie Murren 6-7 2-2 18; Summer Gordon 5-8 3-4 13; Sara Reeves 2-3 1-2 6; Chante Williams 0-3 0-0 0; Heather Haber 0-2 0-0 0; Christa Stewart 4-7 1-1 9. Totals: 31-64 25-30 96.

Halftime score: BC 46, DWU 37.

3-point goals: DWU 10-27 (Hart 5, lamb 2, Beck 1, Johnson 1, Pritchard 1), BC 9-26 (Murren 4, Cihak 2, Dilla 2, Reeves 1); Rebounds: DWU 38, BC 39; Turnovers: DWU 27, BC 17; Assists: DWU 11 (Hills 5), BC 23 (Dilla 6, Reeves 5); Total fouls: DWU 20, BC 22. Fouled out: Evans. Blocks: DWU 1, BC 5; Steals: DWU 9 (Hills 3), BC 17 (Evans 3, Murren 3, Gordon 3); Technical fouls: None.