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Tigers bully Mustangs inside: DWU women top Morningside in battle of top-10 teams

Dakota Wesleyan University's Sarah Carr (40) goes to the basket as Morningside College's Alexandra Gill (40) defends during a Great Plains Athletic Conference game on Wednesday at the Corn Palace. (Matt Gade / Republic)

Nothing could slow down the No. 1 Dakota Wesleyan University women's basketball team.

Not Morningside's press, zone or even Sierra Mitchell's 20 points for the Mustangs. The Tigers flexed their muscles at every challenge and rolled past No. 8 Morningside 91-67 in a Great Plains Athletic Conference contest on Wednesday at the Corn Palace.

Madison Mathews hit DWU's first 3-pointer with 55 seconds left in the first quarter to give it a 15-14 advantage, a lead the Tigers (16-1, 9-1 GPAC) would only grow. Although, it wasn't only DWU's eight 3-pointers that helped it pull away, as its 32-16 advantage in the paint and 66.7 percent shooting inside the arc led the way.

Sarah Carr's leak-out layups to break Morningside's (13-4, 6-4 GPAC) press and bullying her way to the basket resulted in 19 points on 8 of 12 shooting. Rylie Osthus blew by defenders to get to the rim, finishing with a team-high 20 points without a made 3-pointer, as well as eight assists.

"We talked before the game, just said it'd be huge for us to get points in the paint," Osthus said. "... Just lately we've been really focusing on getting those easy points in the paint. It's always easier to go from inside to outside."

DWU grew its 43-33 halftime advantage quickly when Alexandria native Kynedi Cheeseman, who also had 20 points, made back-to-back 3s to start the half. It sparked a 10-2 run, growing DWU's lead to 53-35.

Cheeseman, who scored 17 after the break, was just half of a top-five GPAC scoring showdown, with her and Mitchell ranking third and fourth in scoring, respectively, entering the game.

Mitchell shot her way to 20 points, as well. However, with Mathews or Kaylee Kirk constantly glued on her, she had a hard time finding open looks. That led to deep 3s and contested layups, with Mitchell finishing 6 of 18 from the field and 5-for-12 from deep.

"I thought (Mitchell) really earned it," DWU coach Jason Christensen said. "I was surprised when I saw she had 20 points tonight. I thought she really had to earn those 20. She's a heck of a player."

Kailey Burke and Sydney Hupp scored 14 and 12, respectively, for Morningside, too, while Hupp also grabbed a team-high nine rebounds.

Despite a 24-point win against a top-10 team, Christensen didn't think they played their best. DWU struggled with turnovers, giving it away six times in the opening frame. Morningside couldn't capitalize on the extra chances, though, finishing with 11 points off 18 DWU turnovers. DWU scored 25 against 15 Mustang giveaways.

"I think (our turnovers) were us getting into too big of a hurry sometimes," Christensen said. "... I don't know if it was anything to do with their press because we've seen that a lot, we've worked on that in practice."

Christensen also wasn't pleased with his team's rebounding, citing Morningside's 12 offensive rebounds, even though the Tigers owned a 38-29 advantage. That said, Plankinton native Makaela Karst grabbed 11 rebounds to complete her double-double along with 14 points. Mathews hit a trio of 3s for nine points and Sydney Halling chipped in six points.

"I think it was just the effort," Osthus said. I felt like the whole entire game we had a good intensity to it. ... I just think we had good effort and really wanted it today."

The Tigers play St. Mary (Neb.) at 2 p.m. Saturday in Omaha, Nebraska.

No. 1 Dakota Wesleyan 91, No. 8 Morningside 67

Dakota Wesleyan (16-1, 9-1): Rylie Osthus 7-11 6-7 20, Kynedi Cheeseman 6-16, 4-4 20, Sarah Carr 8-12 2-2 19, Makaela Karst 6-8 2-3 14, Madison Mathews 3-5 0-0 9, Sydney Halling 3-5 0-0 6, Natalie Gottlob 1-1 1-1 3, Kaylee Kirk 0-2 0-0 0, Sam Schuh 0-0 0-0 0, Rebecca Buchholz 0-0 0-0 0, Kathryn Parsley 0-0 0-0 0, Shannon O'Malley 0-0 0-0 0, Meghan Travis 0-0 0-0 0. Team totals: 34-60 15-17 91.

Morningside (13-4, 6-4): Sierra Mitchell 6-18 3-3 20, Kailey Burke 5-9 4-5 14, Sydney Hupp 4-12 4-7 12, Jordyn Moser 3-10, 0-4 8, Faith Meyer 1-2 3-4 6, Mady Maly 1-4 0-0 3, Tayte Hansen 0-1 2-2 2, Alexandra Gill 1-2 0-0 2, Grace Meyer 0-1 0-2 0, Taylor Rodenburgh 0-1 0-0 0, Sophia Peppers 0-1 0-0 0. Team totals: 21-61 16-27 67.

DWU 17 43 68 91

M 14 33 50 67

3-point field goals: DWU 8-21 (Cheeseman 4-7, Mathews 3-5, Carr 1-2, Osthus 0-4, Karst 0-1, Kirk 0-1, Halling 0-1); M 9-24 (Mitchell 5-12, Moser 2-4, Maly 1-3, F. Meyer 1-1, Rodenburgh 0-1, G. Meyer 0-1, Hansen 0-1, Burke 0-1). Rebounds: DWU 38 (Karst 11, Cheeseman 8, Carr 4, Osthus 4); M 29 (Hupp 9, G. Meyer 5, Burke 4). Assists: DWU 20 (Osthus 8, Cheeseman 5); M 10 (Moser 2, Burke 2). Blocked shots: DWU 2 (Cheeseman 1, Kirk 1); M 1 (Hupp 1). Steals: DWU 5 (Mathews 2, Cheeseman 2, Travis 1); M 9 (Burke 3, Mitchell 2). Turnovers: DWU 18; M 15. Total fouls: DWU 18; M 18. A: 2,282.