DWU women look for more national tourney success starting Tuesday

Tigers open play against Hope International, of California

Datkoa Wesleyan's Aspen Hansen drives to the basket in a GPAC women's basketball quarterfinal game against Northwestern on Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2023, at the Corn Palace.
Adam Thury / Mitchell Republic

FAYETTE, Mo. — The NAIA women’s basketball tournament kicks off on Tuesday for Dakota Wesleyan in central Missouri, with the Tigers looking to add to their strong tradition in the national tournament.

The Tigers are in the NAIA tournament for the 10th time in school history, with DWU standing 22-8 all-time in national tourney play, including winning the 2018 NAIA Division II championship.

DWU plays Hope International (Calif.) at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, and with the evening's second game at Puckett Fieldhouse to include the tournament’s No. 1 overall seed in Central Methodist (Mo.) and Haskell (Kan.) at 7:30 p.m. The second round of the tournament will be played at 7 p.m. Wednesday, with the winner advancing to the final 16 in Sioux City, Iowa, next week.

Here’s a look at the four teams involved in this week’s games:

Dakota Wesleyan's Matti Reiner cracks a smile during the Tigers' win over Northwestern on Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2023, at the Corn Palace.
Adam Thury / Mitchell Republic


Dakota Wesleyan

Record: 22-8

Facts to know: The Tigers are the nation’s No. 22-best free throw shooting team, converting 74.3% of their free throws as a team. … DWU was one of 26 at-large selections to the NAIA tournament. … The Tigers have a record of 13-4 away from the Corn Palace this season. … Seniors Jada Campbell and Matti Reiner lead the team in scoring, with 14.4 and 13.8 points per game, respectively. Those two players were also the Tigers’ leading scorers at the NAIA tournament a year ago, with Reiner averaging 20 points in two games and Campbell averaging 17.5 per contest. Isabel Ihnen was also the team’s third-leading scorer at the two games in Omaha with 14 total points. … Also surging in her freshman season is Rylee Rosenquist, who has 10 double-figure scoring games since the start of 2023, and is shooting 53.7% from the field for the season.

Hope International

Record: 24-7

Facts to know: The Royals defeated Menlo (Calif.), 90-73, on Feb. 25 to win the Golden States Athletic Conference title. Shiane Talley scored a game-high 26 points for HIU in the conference title game, with Ana Resendiz scoring 22 points, powered by seven made 3-pointers. … The Royals make 11 3-pointers a game and average 77.3 points per game. … Talley leads the team in scoring with 16.9 points per game, along with nearly 16 points per game from Jeanette Fine. … Hope International gets a South Dakota squad in the NAIA tournament for the second year in a row. In 2022, it lost 69-63 to Dakota State in the opening round in Billings, Montana. That team was 26-6 and a bounce-back from two COVID-impacted seasons.

Central Methodist (Mo.)

Record: 31-0

Facts to know: CMU is in the tournament for the 11th time and reached the national semifinals last season, falling to eventual champion Thomas More (Ky.). … Central Methodist is No. 3 in the country in scoring at nearly 85 points per contest, and they are defensively strong as well, with opponent shooting percentages both overall and from 3-point range in the top-10 nationally for defense. … Of the five starters, the Eagles have four transfers, including three from NCAA Division I institutions. Sophomore guard Leianya Massenat is the one player that has not transferred in, and she leads the team in scoring with nearly 17 points per game. Daryna Bachkarova, a guard/forward who transferred from Hawaii, averages 16.4 points per game and Leah Johnson, a transfer from Division I Rider averages 15 points per game. Zutorya Cook, a transfer from Georgia Tech, averages 12.5 points per game.

Haskell (Kan.)

Record: 15-16.

Facts to know: Haskell is the only team in the NAIA tournament with a losing record at 15-16. … It last reached the NAIA tournament in 2016, when it lost to DWU in the first round in Sioux City. … It is also one of the most turnover-happy teams in the NAIA, giving up the ball more than 20 times per game (ranks 215th in the country). … Haskell was 6-10 on road and neutral courts this season. … Miracle Spotted Bear leads the team in scoring at 17.6 points per game. … They have already played their first-round opponent, Central Methodist, falling 94-61 on Oct. 31 in Fayette.

Traxler is the assistant editor and sports editor for the Mitchell Republic. He's worked for the newspaper since 2014 and has covered a wide variety of topics. He can be reached at
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