Tigers' season ends as upset bid of No. 1 Central Methodist falls short in Missouri
The Tigers’ season ends at 23-9, while Central Methodist moves on to the third round of the NAIA tournament
FAYETTE, Mo. — The Dakota Wesleyan women’s basketball team went on the road Wednesday night and took the No. 1 team in the country to the limit.
But the undefeated host Eagles from Central Methodist were undaunted as well, rallying late to take the lead from the Tigers and earning a 57-53 win over the Tigers in the NAIA tournament second round at Puckett Fieldhouse in central Missouri.
The Tigers’ season ends at 23-9. Central Methodist moves on to the third round of the NAIA tournament, which resumes at 1 p.m. on Monday, March 13, at Tyson Events Center in Sioux City, Iowa, taking on fifth-seeded Texas Wesleyan.
The Tigers followed the blueprint to the upset, holding the high-powered, transfer-laden Eagles to a season-low for points, well below their average of 84 per game. After the opening quarter, which saw CMU lead 23-15, the Tigers allowed only 32 points over the final three periods, slowing the game down and getting defensive stops, forcing the Eagles to play in the half court.
But CMU’s defense was pesky, forcing 21 turnovers, including eight in the first quarter and five more in the final period. The Eagles extended their home-winning streak to 41 games, a streak that dates back to January 2020.
Matti Reiner gave DWU its first lead of the game since the opening two minutes with a basket with 7:36 remaining in the fourth quarter, putting DWU ahead 48-47. The lead peaked a few minutes later when DWU led 50-47. But Reiner’s field goal was the last for more than 7 minutes of the game, as the Tigers struggled to get into an offensive rhythm against the quickness of the Eagles defense, leaving DWU to subsist on free throws.
CMU’s Leah Johnson tied the game with two free throws with 3:09 remaining at 51-all, and after a pair of empty DWU possessions, CMU’s Jaicia Canady made a free throw with 1:36 left to take the lead. Johnson added a basket with 40 seconds left, sandwiched between a pair of DWU missed shots and late free throws expanded the lead to 57-51 with 16 seconds left before the Tigers added a final basket to end the scoring drought.
Leianya Massenat scored 19 points on 7-for-24 shooting for CMU, with Daryna Bachkarova scoring 16 points. Six-foot-three Leah Johnson proved to be a worthy adversary for DWU’s Jada Campbell, posting 10 points, 16 rebounds and five blocks.
Reiner finished with 15 points on 6-for-17 shooting, with six rebounds and five assists in her final game as a Tiger. Fellow senior Campbell finished with 13 points and 12 rebounds on 5-for-16 shooting. Morgan Edelman had 11 points and five rebounds and Rylee Rosenquist had six points and eight rebounds.
DWU finished with a 51-41 edge in rebounding, with 16 offensive rebounds apiece for the two teams. The Tigers shot 32.8% from the field and were 3-for-14 on 3-pointers.
NOTES: The game was DWU’s fifth of the season against a team ranked in the top-five nationally, and the fourth decided by six points or less. … The Tigers are now 23-8 all-time in 10 NAIA tournament appearances. … It is the second time in as many seasons DWU has reached the second round in the 64-team, single-division NAIA national tournament. ... GPAC teams finished 2-3 in the round of 32, with Briar Cliff and Dordt both moving on and Concordia, DWU and Jamestown eliminated from the competition.