ORANGE CITY, Iowa - The Dakota Wesleyan University women's basketball team is going back to the Great Plains Athletic Conference tournament championship for a fourth-straight year, thanks to a big performance from Kynedi Cheeseman.
Cheeseman scored 30 points - including 16 points in the fourth quarter - and the Tigers rallied past second-seeded Northwestern College 75-66 on the road at Bultman Arena in the tournament semifinals. DWU outscored Northwestern 44-32 in the second half to pull out the win, which improves to the Tigers to 28-4 on the season.
DWU, ranked No. 4 in the country, will take on the nation's No. 1 team and the tournament's top seed, Concordia University, at 7 p.m. Tuesday from Seward, Nebraska.
The game will mark the seventh time the two teams have played in the last two seasons, and the third straight year they've played in the GPAC tournament title game. Concordia won both matchups this season and the last two GPAC final games have been decided by a total of three points, going to the Bulldogs each time. The teams met in last year's national title game, in which the DWU pounded the Bulldogs 82-59.
On Saturday, the Tigers trailed by six points midway through the third quarter, but used a 13-3 run to flip the game in their favor before the end of the quarter. A 3-pointer from Sarah Carr tied the game at 46, before Cheeseman scored back-to-back inside buckets, followed by a Rylie Osthus basket inside put DWU up 52-46, and the Tigers led 53-48 going to the final quarter.
A 7-0 run - all coming from Cheeseman - early in the fourth quarter put DWU up 10. Later, the Red Raiders trimmed the DWU lead to four points before Cheeseman, the Alexandria native, drilled a 3-pointer with 1:33 remaining to stretch the lead back to seven points, salting away Northwestern's first home loss of the season.
For the game, Cheeseman was 10-for-19 shooting with a 9-for-11 day at the free-throw line. Carr had 16 points, while Osthus ahd 14 points and played all 40 minutes. DWU shot 50 percent (29-for-58) and was 4-for-11 on 3-pointers.
Northwestern had a 44-26 edge in rebounding, but was held to 12-for-34 shooting in the second half. Anna Kiel led the Red Raiders with 19 points off the bench, while Kassidy De Jong had 17 points, and Ethan native Darbi Gustafson finished with 16 for Northwestern (26-4).
It marks the second straight year DWU has defeated Northwestern in the tournament semifinals, after winning in Orange City in 2018 by a 73-58 margin.
The Tigers' win Saturday also gives DWU an automatic bid to the NAIA Division II women's tournament. The GPAC receives two automatic bids to the tournament, with one each going to the regular season and tournament champions, and the tournament runner-up gets the second bid if the regular-season champion wins the tournament. The NAIA tournament bracket will be announced on Wednesday.
Dakota Wesleyan 75, Northwestern 66
Dakota Wesleyan (28-4): Rylie Osthus 7-13 0-0 14 Madison Mathews 2-2 2-2 7 Kynedi Cheeseman 10-19 9-11 30 Sydney Halling 1-4 0-0 2 Sarah Carr 7-15 0-0 16 Kaylee Kirk 1-2 0-0 2 Makaela Karst 1-3 2-2 4 Meghan Travis 0-0 0-0 0 Totals 29-58 13-15 75
Northwestern (26-4): Kassidy De Jong 6-18 3-3 17 Darbi Gustafson 5-10 5-6 16 Sammy Blum 1-7 1-2 5 Haley Birks 1-7 1-2 3 Breana Schuiteman 0-4 0-0 0 Anna Kiel 9-15 1-3 19 Taylor VanderVelde 2-3 0-0 4 Alexis Toering 1-2 0-2 2 Jada Cunningham 0-1 0-0 0 Totals 26-64 10-16 66
DWU 15 31 53 75
NWC 20 34 48 66
3-pointers: DWU 4-11 (Carr 2-2, Cheeseman 1-6, Mathews 1-1, Halling 0-1, Osthus 0-1), NWC 4-8 (De Jong 2-8, Gustafson 1-1, Blum 1-3, Schuiteman 0-3, Birks 0-2, Cunningham 0-1). Rebounds-offensive: DWU 26-5 (Team 6, Carr 5), NWC 44-18 (Schuiteman 8). Total fouls: DWU 14, NWC 18. Fouled out: Karst. Technicals: none. Assists: DWU 14 (Osthus 4), NWC 19 (Gustafson 4, Blum 4). Turnovers: DWU 9, NWC 17. Blocks: DWU 2 (Mathews, Halling), NWC 4 (Gustafson 2, Kiel 2). Steals: DWU 5 (Osthus 2), NWC 5 (Birks 2). A - 350