'It's our defense' as DWU women's basketball stymies Northwestern to pick up key GPAC win
“The thing that stuck out ... was defense,” coach Jason Christensen said. “To hold them to 22% shooting in that fourth quarter … you hold a Northwestern team to 41 points, that’s pretty remarkable.”
MITCHELL — It was all about the defense for the Dakota Wesleyan women’s basketball team Wednesday.
After Northwestern College tied the game at 39 early in the fourth, the Tigers went on a 16-2 run and held Northwestern scoreless for the final 7:45 to pick up a 55-41 win over the Red Raiders in a Great Plains Athletic Conference matchup at the Corn Palace.
And as the Tigers outscored Northwestern by 12 in the final frame, it was the defense that head coach Jason Christensen harkened back on following the win.
“The thing that stuck out (Wednesday night) was defense,” Christensen said. “To hold them to 22% shooting in that fourth quarter … you hold a Northwestern team to 41 points, that’s pretty remarkable.”
Part of the defensive edge came from a “sour taste” DWU had, Christensen said. After beating Northwestern last week, DWU did not receive any votes in the latest NAIA coaches poll, while Northwestern received 15.
“I know I was upset about it, I was hoping they are too,” Christensen said of the rankings. “I think they wanted to come out and prove something. … I thought (Wednesday night) we played with a chip on our shoulder. (We) went out there and played to win, especially that second half.”
The Tigers held Northwestern to 41 points on 35.4% shooting from the field and 2-for-13 shooting from 3-point range, and in the fourth quarter the Red Raiders went 2-for-9 from the floor and 0-for-6 from behind the arc. Maddie Jones was the leading scorer for NWC with 13 points and was the lone Red Raider in double figures.
For DWU, Jada Campbell and Matti Reiner each scored 11 points, while Morgan Edelman added nine. Campbell also added eight rebounds, including three in the fourth quarter.
“She had two big, key rebounds at the end,” Christensen said. “Physical rebounds, too.”
Campbell helped the Tigers hold a 36-31 edge in the rebound department for the game, and the bench unit, which Christensen said he felt was “real good offensively” poured in 18 points on 7-for-15 shooting for DWU, led by seven points from Rynn Osthus.
The game featured multiple runs from both sides, with Northwestern’s lone lead coming when the Red Raiders went on a 7-0 run and the final run coming in the form of a 16-2 streak for DWU. But in Christensen's view, it was the defense that spurred DWU’s runs.
“It always starts with our defense, and I know runs are with offense, but it’s our defense,” Christensen said. “When we establish a run, we got to get stops and not turn the basketball over. The three different times they came back, all three of them was turnovers.”
DWU finished the game with 17 turnovers but forced 22 from Northwestern.
The win completed a two-game sweep over Northwestern for the Tigers, who improved to 18-7 overall and 12-7 in GPAC play. DWU will take on Midland in its final road game of the regular season on Saturday, Feb. 11, before coming home for two games to close out the campaign.
The win pushed DWU to fifth in the GPAC standings and put the Tigers ahead of Northwestern.
“It was big, just for that reason: ... We want to host a playoff game,” Christensen said, noting the top-four teams in the conference host a GPAC tournament game. “Any time you can play on your home floor and not have to travel, it’s a big deal.”