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Herrold powers DWU to GPAC opening win

Mitchell native Kristin Sabers (40) goes for a layup against Nebraska Wesleyan's Bridget Bucher in the second half of Dakota Wesleyan's 80-55 win Saturday at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls. (Nick McCutcheon/Republic)

SIOUX FALLS – The Dakota Wesleyan University women’s basketball team dominated the paint in an 80-55 victory over Nebraska Wesleyan University Saturday at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls.

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The win came in the Great Plains Athletic Conference opener for the Tigers (6-1, 1-0 GPAC) and despite being played in Sioux Falls, was a home game for DWU.

“Every conference win is imperative because the GPAC has so much parity,” DWU coach Jason Christenson said. “I know this is technically a home game but we were on the road. When you get on the road you have to win these games.”

Freshman forward Erica Herrold scored 16 of her game-high 20 points in the first half to push DWU in front early. The Dimock native also had seven rebounds and two 3-pointers in the win.

“For a freshman to show up here and rattle off 20 points in this environment is impressive,” Christenson said.

The frontcourt for the Tigers stepped up with the team’s outside shooters struggling to find a rhythm in the unfamiliar surroundings. The Tigers outscored the Prairie Wolves 50 to 28 in the paint.

“It was difficult to adjust to playing here and we understood that we had to get the ball inside,” Christenson said. “We had three players in double figures and all three were post players.”

The Tigers only made five of their 24 attempts from behind the 3-point line.

Helping pick up the slack down low was senior forward Kim Johnson, who scored 16 points on 8-of-12 shooting, pulled down five rebounds and dished out four assists.

Katie Johnson also reached double-figures for the Tigers, scoring 10 points and grabbing eight boards.

Mitchell natives Kristin Sabers and Taylor Piper added seven and six points, respectively. Celeste Beck finished with eight points and a team-high six assists.

“We had nine practices since our last game and we really worked on getting open off the ball,” Herrold said.

The Prairie Wolves were led by Felicia TeKolste, who finished with 19 points on 7-of-15 shooting and pulled down a team-high seven rebounds. Bridget Bucher added 11 points and five rebounds in the loss.

“We are pretty young and DWU took advantage of that in the post,” NWU coach Britni Fett said. “I’m happy with how we played outside of about five minutes when they really pulled away.”

DWU outrebounded NWU 49 to 39, and the Tigers had 24 assists to the Prairie Wolves’ six.

The Tigers continue conference play against Briar Cliff University at 6 p.m. Tuesday in Sioux City. NWU (1-4, 0-1 GPAC) play Central College at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday in Pella, Iowa.

Nebraska Wesleyan … 55

Dakota Wesleyan ……. 80

DWU (6-1, 1-0 GPAC)

Micaela Erickson 2-9 0-0 4; Taylor Piper 3-5 0-0 6; Amanda Hart 3-12 0-0 7; Kim Johnson 8-12 0-0 16; Katie Johnson 4-5 2-4 10; Savannah Minder 0-0 1-2 1; Erica Herrold 6-10 6-8 20; Celeste Beck 3-7 0-0 8; Kelsey Little 0-0 0-0 0; Skylar Heydon 0-6 1-2 1; Kristin Sabers 3-8 1-2 7.

NWU (1-4, 0-1 GPAC)

Courtney Cook 2-6 0-0 4; Amanda Diaz 0-7 2-4 2; Felicia TeKolste 7-15 5-6 19; Kellt Sanchez 2-8 3-4 7; Kylee Ashley 2-5 2-2 6; Lauren Eiegenbein 1-1 0-1 2; Mariah Trinh 1-4 2-2 4; Sadie Hunt 0-0 0-0 0; Stacy Beller 0-1 0-0 0; Emma Neal 0-0 0-0 0; Bridget Bucher 2-8 7-8 11.

Halftime: 38-25. Rebounds: DWU 49 (Erickson 9, Katie Johnson 8), NWU 39 (Cook 5). 3-point field goals: DWU 5-24 (Herrold 2, Beck 2), NWU 0-11. Assists: DWU 24 (Beck 6, Hart 5), NWU 6 (Cook 2). Steals: DWU 9 (Beck 3), NWU 8 (Sanchez 4). Turnovers: DWU 13 (Erickson 3, Herrold 3), NWU 20 (TeKolste 7). Total fouls: DWU 21, NWU 17. Fouled out: NWU: Cook.