DWU women's basketball notebook: 'The little things' imperative for Tigers during postseason play

“We don’t take bad shots. … We outrebound teams and when you look at deflections and 50/50 balls, we’re getting them,” Jason Christensen said. “If we can keep doing that, we’ll be in every game.”

Dakota Wesleyan's Morgan Edelman makes a pass during a Great Plains Athletic Conference tournament women's basketball quarterfinal game against Northwestern College on Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2023, at the Corn Palace.
Adam Thury / Mitchell Republic

MITCHELL — With six wins in a row heading into the Great Plains Athletic Conference tournament semifinals, the Dakota Wesleyan women’s basketball team is heating up at the right time of the season.

The Tigers most recently took down Northwestern College, 69-62, in the GPAC tournament quarterfinals.

Here is a look at where the Tigers stand following their win Tuesday and what lies ahead.

‘The little things’

Of DWU’s six losses to NAIA teams this season, just two have come by double digits and the Tigers haven’t lost by more than eight points since Dec. 10 against Dordt.

For coach Jason Christensen, his team’s hustle is one of the reasons they’re consistently in games.


“If you’re going to be on the floor and play for me, you’re going to have to go after 50/50 balls and things like that,” Christensen said after the quarterfinal win over Northwestern.

That hustle was evident against Northwestern, with the likes of Rylee Rosenquist — who led the team in scoring with 24 points — consistently diving on the floor going after loose balls. There’s more to hustle than just diving for loose balls, though, and it shows up on the rebounding glass.

The Tigers outrebounded Northwestern, 42-31, in the win and it’s a part of what Christensen calls “the little things.”

“We don’t take bad shots. We do other things. … We outrebound teams and then when you look at deflections and 50/50 balls, we’re getting them,” Christensen said. “If we can keep doing that, we’ll be in every game.”

The Tigers shot 53.8% over the final three quarters en route to a win over Northwestern College in the quarterfinals of the Great Plains Athletic Conference tournament.

Still work to do

Giving up the 27th-fewest points per game in the country and the least in the GPAC, the defensive side of the ball is the Tigers’ strong suit. But it doesn’t mean they’re a bad offensive team.

DWU ranks 63rd among all 236 NAIA schools at 72.2 points per game and the Tigers have two players — Jada Campbell and Matti Reiner — among the top-10 scorers in the GPAC.

But the game against Northwestern encapsulated DWU’s offense.


It’s not always one person, but instead multiple people who can lead the Tigers on any given night. On Tuesday, it was Rosenquist, who matched her season high with 24 points and led the offense, while Reiner was right behind her at 19 points.

Christensen admitted there’s still room for improvement on the offensive side of the ball but that he’s seen some even just over the course of the last few games.

“I think we’re cleaning up. A lot of our sets we run, I think we cleaned up some of them,” he said.

Against the Red Raiders, DWU shot 42.9% from the field, and the shooting efficiency was a byproduct of the good looks the Tigers got throughout the entirety of the game. Though they weren’t falling in the first quarter, DWU shot 53.8% over the final three frames. On the season, DWU ranks 24th in the country in terms of shooting percentage at 44.3% but 71st nationally in 3-point percentage at 31.3%.

If the shots fall for DWU, coupling that with the Tigers’ defense and hustle could make them a tough out in not only the GPAC tournament, but possibly the NAIA tournament, as well.

“We do everything that we need to, we execute our offense very well,” Christensen said. “We just have a tough time scoring.”

The Dakota Wesleyan University men’s basketball team had few answers for Dordt offense on Wednesday night in the Great Plains Athletic Conference tournament quarterfinals.

Daunting Defenders

While the Tigers appear to be in a good position to make the NAIA national tournament regardless of the outcome of the GPAC tournament, it’s not a lock.


Two more wins in the GPAC tournament would assure DWU a spot in the NAIA tournament, but that would require a win over the nation’s No. 4-ranked team, Dordt, to get to the GPAC championship.

The Defenders have one of the country’s best offenses, sitting at No. 13 in points per game at 78.9 and fifth nationally in offensive efficiency. At 39% from 3-point range, they have the third-best mark in the country, and their 47.9% field-goal percentage is fifth.

The Tigers have taken on Dordt twice this year and lost twice — once in overtime at home and once by 10 points on the road. Should DWU get past Dordt in the GPAC semifinals, it would face either Concordia at home or Briar Cliff on the road in the championship.

“They're a deep team. They're very athletic,” Christensen said of Dordt. “We have nothing to lose. We're just going to go down to their place and we'll see what happens.”

Zech Lambert is a sports reporter for the Mitchell Republic. He graduated from Penn State University in May 2022 and began at the Mitchell Republic in July 2022. He can be reached at or on Twitter @Zech_Lambert.
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