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Plenty on the line tonight for Tigers

The Dakota Wesleyan University men's basketball team's eight-game winning streak was snapped Saturday by Briar Cliff University and the Tigers fell to 13-3 in the Great Plains Athletic Conference. But, if DWU takes care of things at home tonight,...

The Dakota Wesleyan University men's basketball team's eight-game winning streak was snapped Saturday by Briar Cliff University and the Tigers fell to 13-3 in the Great Plains Athletic Conference. But, if DWU takes care of things at home tonight, and with a little help elsewhere in the conference, it could still seal its postseason fate.

The No. 11 Tigers (22-6, 13-3) host Concordia College (18-9, 10-6) at 8 p.m. tonight in their final regular-season game at the Corn Palace. Morningside College (21-6, 13-3) plays at Northwestern College (16-10, 11-5) in Orange City, Iowa. A Tiger win and a Mustang loss would equal DWU's first-ever GPAC regular-season title, a trip to the national tournament and the No. 1 seed in the GPAC postseason tournament, which, in turn, would mean home-court advantage throughout the tournament.

But, DWU head coach John Hemenway said he's not letting his squad get ahead of itself.

"It's a little bit of a double-edged sword here," he said. "We need to be aware. The kids know what's at stake. We've talked about the importance of this game and the game on Saturday, and we know the importance of Morningside's game. But, on the other side of the coin, we only can control what we can control, and that's playing well against Concordia."

Before the Tigers worry about what happens between Morningside and Northwestern, they have to worry about what they're going to do to prevent another upset like their 79-64 loss to the Chargers Saturday. Dakota Wesleyan shot 37 percent from the field, including a 23 percent clip from three-point range. Briar Cliff, on the other hand, shot 45.6 percent from the field and nailed 12 of its 30 three-point attempts.

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"We'd like to just play a little better on offense," Hemenway said. "I don't think we've played great on offense the last couple games. We need to do a much better job pushing the basketball and getting the tempo at our pace."

Dakota Wesleyan's pace is much different than Concordia's pace. The Tigers are second in the league in scoring offense and average 81.8 points per game. Concordia is second on the league in scoring defense and gives up an average 64.1 points per game, so keeping the game fast-paced will be important for DWU today.

"The way we play, it's a little contrasting styles of basketball," Hemenway said. "They're more a grind-it-out, half-court physical team, where we want to be more up and down and get the tempo to our pace."

If the Tigers and Morningside both win, DWU still has the chance to seal the GPAC regular-season title Saturday at USF -- provided the Mustangs lose Saturday to Dordt College. Should DWU lose and Morningside win today, the Mustangs would grab a one-game lead and the chance to clinch the conference title with a win Saturday.

The Dakota Wesleyan women also face a tough test today in the 6 p.m. opening game of the double header.

The Tigers (13-15, 6-10) will try to earn another upset of a top-10 team when they host No. 9 Concordia College. Concordia is 21-7 overall and 12-4 and in a tie with Mount Marty for third in the GPAC.

DWU upset then-No. 3 ranked Northwestern 75-66 Feb. 11 at the Corn Palace, but lost 72-66 to Briar Cliff Saturday in Sioux City, Iowa.

Concordia is third in the league in scoring offense with 73.6 points per game and leads the GPAC in rebounding with an average total of 42.9 rebounds per game.

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