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Heartbreaker in Sioux City: DWU women fall in double overtime to Southeastern in national semis

Dakota Wesleyan University's Sarah Carr (40) fights her way to the basket as Southeastern's Marlena Schmidt (45) defends during the semi-finals of the NAIA Division II national tournament on Monday at the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City, Iowa. (Matt Gade / Republic)

SIOUX CITY, Iowa -- Dakota Wesleyan University fell just short of a rematch with conference rival Concordia University.

The DWU women couldn’t muster enough offense in a double-overtime loss to Southeastern (Fla.), 78-75, on Monday at the Tyson Events Center. The Tigers finish the season 31-6, while the Fire (31-2) play Concordia (Neb.) at 7:05 p.m. today for the national championship. DWU defeated Concordia in last season’s national championship game.

“I’m not hanging my head about anything,” DWU coach Jason Christensen said. “I thought our kids battled today. And I didn’t know what to expect going into this game -- you see how small we are and how big they are.”

In a game with plenty of defense, the Fire had the two biggest plays on that end.

Makenzie Cann stripped Alexandria native Kynedi Cheeseman with 18 seconds left in double overtime, followed by Raegen Linster blocking Kaylee Kirk’s potential game-tying layup with 3.9 seconds remaining on the next possession. The Tigers had one final look, but Cheeseman’s half-court heave hit off the backboard as time expired.

The Tigers had plenty of solid defensive plays, too, which kept them in the game despite shooting 32.9 percent from the field. They held Southeastern to 38.2 percent shooting and 5-for-27 from beyond the arc.

“I’m really proud of our defense,” Christensen said. “I thought if we could keep it in the 60s -- which we did, and then it went double overtime -- we’d have a chance. The biggest thing that stands out in this game is we just had a tough time scoring.”

DWU had chances late in the game as it trailed 48-47 and 51-49 in the fourth quarter, but poor shooting and timely makes by the Fire kept them behind. The Fire’s length also disrupted passing lanes, leading to 17 turnovers for the Tigers.

“They were able to tip a lot of basketballs,” Christensen said. “I just thought we did a good job wearing them down.”

Both teams had a chance to end it at the buzzer prior to the second overtime period, though.

Linster drove to the basket with 5.3 seconds to play in regulation but couldn’t get a shot off as she attempted to sidestep Kirk, sending the game into overtime.

The game was pushed to an extra five minutes when Carr’s shot in the paint came up short as she fell backward, keeping the game at 69-all.

As the game went on, the fouls racked up for both teams. Plankinton native Makaela Karst, Madison Mathews and Rylie Osthus all fouled out for the Tigers, while 6-foot-6 center Marlena Schmidt did the same for the Fire in the second overtime. Carr also picked up four fouls.

Osthus received a roaring ovation from the DWU faithful as she walked off the floor for the final time, finishing with 14 points, eight rebounds and six assists. Kirk, a freshman, replaced her.

“Osthus had one heck of a career at Dakota Wesleyan,” Christensen said. “When she came into the program, we had to throw her into the fire when Chesney Nagel tore her ACL. She just grew up every game she played.”

Despite DWU’s slow start, Cheeseman did her best to keep the Tigers in the game.

She found her rhythm in the second quarter, hitting four 3s in the second en route to a game-high 32 points and 14 rebounds.

“She kept us in the game,” Christensen said. “She did a good job of being patient and finding looks. She kept attacking.”

Madison Mathews hit a trio of 3s for nine points in her final game as a Tiger. Elsa Paulsson-Glantz scored a team-high 16 points for the Fire.

Southeastern 78, Dakota Wesleyan 75 (2OT)

Dakota Wesleyan (31-6): Meghan Travis 0-0 0-0 0, Rylie Osthus 6-17 0-0 14, Sarah Carr 1-14 6-6 8, Kynedi Cheeseman 11-25 5-5 32, Makaela Karst 2-5 0-0 5, Madison Mathews 3-6 0-0 9, Sydney Halling 2-7 0-0 4, Natalie Gottlob 0-0 0-0 0, Kaylee Kirk 1-5 0-0 3, Sam Schuh 0-0 0-0 0, Haylee Mork 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 26-79 11-11 75

Southeastern (Fla.) (31-2): Trisha Jacobs 0-1 1-2 1, Marlena Schmidt 5-6 3-5 13, Halee Printz 5-16 0-0 10, Jaycee Coe 5-13 0-0 12, Emma Karamovic 4-9 0-0 8, Elsa Paulsson-Glantz 5-15 5-9 16, Makenzie Cann 3-11 3-4 11, Raegan Linster 2-5 3-4 7. Totals 29-76 15-24 78

FG%: Dakota Wesleyan (S.D.) .329, Southeastern (Fla.) .382. 3-pt FG:Dakota Wesleyan (S.D.) 12-30 (Osthus 2-7, Carr 0-3, Cheeseman 5-10, Karst 1-3, Mathews 3-5, Kirk 1-2), Southeastern (Fla.) 5-27 (Printz 0-4, Coe 2-7, Karamovic 0-2, Paulsson-Glantz 1-6, Cann 2-7, Linster 0-1). Rebounds: Dakota Wesleyan (S.D.) 59 (Cheeseman 14), Southeastern (Fla.) 48 (Schmidt 12). Fouls Dakota Wesleyan (S.D.) 24, Southeastern (Fla.) 16. Fouled out: Osthus Karst Mathews Schmidt . Technical: none. Assists: Dakota Wesleyan (S.D.) 16 (Osthus 6), Southeastern (Fla.) 11 (Printz 4). Steals: Dakota Wesleyan (S.D.) 4 (Halling 2), Southeastern (Fla.) 8 (Cann 3). Blocked shots: Dakota Wesleyan (S.D.) 2 (Karst 2), Southeastern (Fla.) 6 (Schmidt 2, Paulsson-Glantz 2). Turnovers: Dakota Wesleyan (S.D.) 17, Southeastern (Fla.) 11. Attendance: 1,862.