Dakota Wesleyan women's basketball looks to build on GPAC tourney title-winning season
After going 27-8 last season, the Tigers begin the 2022 campaign as the No. 12-ranked team in the NAIA coaches poll.
MITCHELL — Coming off a 2021-22 season in which Dakota Wesleyan women's basketball took down the program's first Great Plains Athletic Conference tournament title and won a game in the NAIA tournament, expectations are high for the Tigers in 2022-23.
Here's what you need to know about the 2022-23 DWU women's basketball at a glance:
Record (2021-22): 27-8
Postseason (2021-22): Finished third in the GPAC standings and defeated No. 6 Concordia (Neb.), No. 2 Dordt and No. 1 Morningside during the run to a conference tournament championship. … In the NAIA tournament, the Tigers were a No. 4 seed and defeated No. 13 seed Saint Francis (Ind.) in the first round before falling to No. 12 seed Bethel (Tenn.) in the second round.
Coach: Jason Christensen, 13th season, 253-139 overall record.
Key returners: DWU returns a pair of all-GPAC talents in the frontcourt with first-teamer Matti Reiner and second-teamer Jada Campbell. Reiner was also an honorable mention All-American last season after averaging 13.7 points, 5.7 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.3 steals per game. Meanwhile, Campbell put up 13.1 points, 6.2 rebounds and 1.3 block per contest. … Guard Rynn Osthus was honorable mention all-GPAC last season and brings back 7.1 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.2 steals to the lineup. … Regular contributors from last season including Isabel Ihnen (8.2 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.0 assists), Lacey Sprakel (6.0 points and 2.8 rebounds) and Aspen Hansen (5.2 points and 3.2 rebounds) also return.
Key departures: The Tigers will turn to a new point guard after the graduation of Kaylee Kirk, who was the GPAC defensive player of the year and a second-team all-conference honoree last season after averaging 9.1 points, 6.3 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 2.5 steals per game. … A frequent contributor off the bench, Natalie Gottlob (5.1 points and 2.8 rebounds) also graduated from the 2021-22 roster.
Key newcomers: Forward Lavin Bendt, of Kadoka, has moved onto the varsity roster from junior varsity last season. … Two freshmen guards from the most recent recruiting class, Maleighya Estes and Rylee Rosenquist, are also on the varsity roster. Estes, of White River, was a Class B first-team all-state selection as a high school senior, averaging 27 points, seven rebounds, four assists and three steals per game. Rosenquist, a Dakota Valley graduate, was the 2022 Class A player of the year and finished her prep career with 1,837 points, 918 rebounds, 358 assists and 304 steals.
Notes: DWU garnered the No. 12 ranking in the preseason NAIA coaches poll and was picked second in the GPAC, behind Morningside and just ahead of Dordt and Northwestern. … The Tigers were top 35 nationally last season for field goal percentage (42.9%) on offense, but the strength of the team was defense, with top-35 marks for points per game against (58.1) and opponent field goal percentage (36.3%).
Schedule notes: DWU’s season gets underway on Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 5-6, with games against Valley City State and Presentation College at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls. The Tigers are then on the road for the first two GPAC games of the season, including the conference opener at Morningside, before their first home game against conference foe, the College of Saint Mary, on Nov. 19. … Back-to-back conference games against Doane and Hastings on Dec. 2-3 along with a Dec. 18 meeting with Presentation are the only other home dates prior to 2023. DWU playing 11 of their first 15 games away from the Corn Palace. This includes facing Dordt and Northwestern in mid-December and a trip to California just before the New Year, where the Tigers play Antelope Valley and Masters University on Dec. 30-31. … DWU hosts Dordt on Jan. 25, 2023, Northwestern on Feb. 8 and Morningside on Feb. 15 as part of key conference contests down the stretch. After playing on the road for much of the early part of the schedule, the Tigers get the benefit of playing eight of 14 games at the Corn Palace in January and February, including five of their last eight.