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Defense shines again in DWU women's basketball's home win over Bellevue

DWU improves to 9-2 ahead of seven-straight road contests.

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Dakota Wesleyan University women against Bellevue University on Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2021 during a game at the Corn Palace. (Matt Gade / Republic)
Matt Gade
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Coming in as winners of five-straight games and in the final of three-straight home contests, the Dakota Wesleyan women’s basketball team didn’t take long to assert itself once again.

DWU led by double digits for more than 30 minutes and never trailed in an 87-50 victory over Bellevue University (Neb.) on Wednesday night at the Corn Palace. The Tigers opened the game on a 9-1 run in the first 3 1/2 minutes and barely slowed down the rest of the half, leading 19-8 after 10 minutes and 45-16 at halftime.

Early on, a theme emerged on the offensive end for DWU: get the ball into the post as frequently as possible. Jada Campbell, Natalie Gottlob and Lacey Sprakel made their presence felt, combining to match the Bruins’ scoring output in the first half on 8-for-15 shooting. For the game, the Tigers amassed 60 points in the paint.

“We thought we’d see a little more zone tonight and we didn’t,” said DWU coach Jason Christensen. “I think part of the reason is we attacked their zone real early. … I thought all of our bigs did a really good job of getting to the rim tonight.”

But the main difference-maker was defense, particularly in the first half. DWU held Bellevue to 4-of-22 shooting (18.2%) from the field in the opening 20 minutes and forced 12 turnovers. On the other end of the court, the Tigers made 19 field goals on 40 attempts (47.5%) and did not record a turnover.

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“Defensively, we were pretty good that first half,” Christensen said. “Our defense really got our offense going today for most of the game. … We went the whole first half without a turnover, which is pretty remarkable.”

Guard Kaylee Kirk said the exceptional defensive effort was partially a product of the Tigers playing below their standard in a home win over Doane on Dec. 4.

“We knew we didn’t play our best game on Saturday,” Kirk said. “We won the game, but we weren’t satisfied. We came into today knowing we had to focus on ourselves and defense, mainly. If you get stops, it’s going to lead to offense, and that was the goal today.”

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Dakota Wesleyan University women against Bellevue University on Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2021 during a game at the Corn Palace. (Matt Gade / Republic)
Matt Gade

The Bruins used pressure from their own defense to find a foothold briefly early in the third quarter half by speeding up the Tigers, but DWU (9-2, 3-2 GPAC) steadily solved the pressure ensuring Bellevue never made much of a dent in the sizable lead in the second half.

Four Tigers — Campbell (19 ), Matti Reiner (14), Gottlob (13) and Rynn Osthus (12) — reached double figure points in the contest. Campbell added six rebounds, Reiner four rebounds and three assists and Osthus six rebounds and four assists. Kirk chipped in six points, eight assists and six rebounds.

Bellevue (4-8) was led by 13 points and six rebounds from Elexis Martinez and seven points, five rebounds and two assists from Asha Scott.

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DWU travels to take on Dordt in a GPAC contest on Saturday, Dec. 11 in the first of seven consecutive games away from the Corn Palace.

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Dakota Wesleyan University women against Bellevue University on Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2021 during a game at the Corn Palace. (Matt Gade / Republic)
Matt Gade

Dierks covers prep and collegiate athletics across the Mitchell Republic's coverage region area, focusing on Mitchell High School football and boys basketball and area high school football, volleyball and basketball, as well as Dakota Wesleyan women's basketball. He was also the lead on the Mitchell Republic Gridiron Spotlight, producing video and providing live play-by-play for the traveling weekly prep football broadcast during its first season in the fall of 2021. Dierks is a Mitchell native who graduated from South Dakota State University with his bachelor's degree in journalism in May 2020. He joined the Mitchell Republic sports staff in August 2021. He can be reached at ldierks@mitchellrepublic.com and found on Twitter at @LDierksy.
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