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Wesleyan women escape with 65-59 win over Doane

DWU forward Kristin Sabers drives to the basketball during the first half of a Great Plains Athletic Conference game against Doane College Saturday at the Corn Palace in Mitchell. (Aaron Saunders/Republic)

Dakota Wesleyan forward Kim Johnson struggled to find her rhythm for much of the second half Saturday at the Corn Palace.

The junior forward missed a few layups, but when her team needed her most she stepped up.

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With DWU clinging to a 62-59 lead with just under one minute left in the game, Johnson converted a layup to ice the game and help Wesleyan defeat Great Plains Athletic Conference foe Doane College 65-59.

“It finally went in,” Johnson said. “After missing two layups before, it was like come on. A conference win is always good. This was one we didn’t want to slip away. We definitely didn’t play well offensively but we did a good defensively and got a win in the end.”

Johnson had a team leading 11 points and seven rebounds. Freshman forward and Mitchell native Kristin Sabers also had 11 points, while junior guard Celeste Beck had 10 points and seven rebounds.

Wesleyan had a hard time finding the net in the second half as they converted six field goals.

DWU’s saving grace in the second half was free throw shooting and strong defensive play.

The DWU women (9-2, 4-1 GPAC) were 12-of-19 from the free-throw line in the second half and they held Doane to a 37.5 percent performance from the field in the second half.

“Offensively we were bad, defensively we were good,” DWU women’s basketball coach Jason Christensen said. “We did a good job of taking away the dribble drive and when we had to have stops we got them.” “My kids have to understand that in the GPAC conference you can’t have an off night. Tonight we got lucky, we had some good looks offensively we were just missing wide open layups.”

The DWU defense forced Doane to commit 23 turnovers while also recording 13 steals.

DWU also found itself in a dog fight for 16 minutes in the first half. With just over four minutes to go in the opening half, the game was tied at 23.

The Wesleyan women then exploded on a 17-7 run to close out the half with a 40-30 lead.

Doane methodically closed the gap in the second half with help from Hannah Dostal.

The junior forward had a game-high 19 points on 9-of-15 shooting. She converted most of her points in the paint.

Sophomore guard Shelbi Bittinger added 10 points and 10 rebounds for Doane (4-8, 1-6 GPAC).

Both players were instrumental down the stretch for Doane, which got as close as three points, but could not seal the deal.

“It was a really hard fought game,” Doane women’s basketball coach Tracee Fairbanks said. “Dakota Wesleyan has a good inside and outside game, so I was really happy with our defensive performance today.” “I feel like if we hold a team to 65 points we should come away with a win. We cut it to three but we couldn’t close the door, because we had some missed shots and key turnovers.”

DWU travels to Aberdeen to face Presentation College at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Dakota Wesleyan 65

Doane College 59

DWU (9-2, 4-1 GPAC)

Micaela Erickson 1-6 3-5 5; Taylor Piper 2-9 1-3 5; Amanda Hart 2-7 1-2 7; Kim Johnson 4-10 2-2 11; Katie Johnson 3-6 3-4 9; Savannah Minder 0-0 0-0 0; Erica Herrold 2-6 2-2 7; Celeste Beck 4-8 0-0 10; Kelsey Little 0-0 0-0 0; Taylor Kuhn 0-0 0-0 0; Kristin Sabers 4-9 3-4 11.

DC (4-8, 1-6 GPAC)

Shelbi Bittinger 1-8 8-8 10; Hanah Barnard 3-9 1-2 9; Cali Bellar 3-8 0-0 8; Heather Broman 4-7 4-7 12; Hannah Dostal 9-15 1-2 19; Brittany White 0-0 1-2 1; Morgan Hill 0-3 0-0 0; Allie Satterly 0-0 0-0 0; Alyssa Willicott 0-1 0-2 0.

Halftime: 40-30 DWU; 3-point goals: DWU 6-17 (Hart 2, Beck 2, Herrold, Johnson), DC 4-18 (Barnard 2, Bellar 2) Rebounds: DWU 35 (Ki. Johnson 7, Beck 7), DC 41 (Bittinger 10); Assists DWU 17 (Piper 5, Hart 5), DC 10 (Bellar 4); Steals: DWU 13 (Erickson 4), DC 2 (Bittinger, Dostal); Turnovers: DWU 11, DC 23;