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Hot shooting Tiger women knock off Southeastern, move on to semifinals

SIOUX CITY, Iowa -- The dancing continues for the Dakota Wesleyan University women's basketball team. For the first time 15 years, DWU advanced to the semifinals of the NAIA Division II national tournament. On Saturday, the No. 7-ranked Tigers di...

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The DWU bench celebrates a Chesney Nagel 3-point basket during a game against Southeastern University in the third round of the NAIA Division II National Tournament on Saturday at the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City, Iowa. (Matt Gade / Republic)
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SIOUX CITY, Iowa -- The dancing continues for the Dakota Wesleyan University women’s basketball team.

For the first time 15 years, DWU advanced to the semifinals of the NAIA Division II national tournament. On Saturday, the No. 7-ranked Tigers did it in style, knocking off previously unbeaten and No. 1 Southeastern 78-64 with deadly outside shooting. Ashley Bray led the way, drilling eight 3-pointers and finishing with a 26 points.  

“We were confident shooting ball,” said Bray, who moved into fifth place in DWU’s all-time scoring on Friday. “The minute we get a basket, we really feed off that.”

In front of 1,657 fans, it was Bray and Kynedi Cheeseman that were feeding off each other. To start the game, the senior and sophomore duo combined for back-to-back 3-pointers and it was a combination that fueled DWU runs in the third and fourth quarters. Cheeseman tossed in 20 points, Amber Bray had nine points and Rylie Osthus recorded seven points, eight rebounds and seven assists.

“The pack in it defensively, so we had to shoot it,” DWU head coach Jason Christensen said. “(Ashley) was at the right place at the right time. … When the shot clock was running down, she hit a couple big threes and that definitely helps.”

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As a team, DWU (30-6) went 15-of-34 from behind the arc -- a season-best effort for the Tigers -- for 44 percent. While Christensen was happy with his team’s hot shooting, he said defense against the Fire stood out the most.

“We didn’t switch any screens. The first time all year,” Christensen said. “That confused them a little bit. This was the first time we weren’t the biggest team and we did a good job on their big kid.”

Southeastern’s 6-foot-6 center Marlena Schmidt was hounded by DWU’s defense all game. She finished with 10 points and nine rebounds, but fouled out of the contest in the fourth quarter. The Fire’s leading scorer -- Ana Richter, who averaged 23.3 points per game this season -- was held to 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting. Jaycee Coe and Halee Printz each finished with 11 points in the loss.

“They were undefeated. They are the real deal,” Christensen said. “We led the whole game. I thought we controlled it the whole time. We just found ways.”

In the first quarter, Southeastern tied the game for the first and only time at 14, but the Tigers closed the quarter on 6-0 run to led 20-14.

The Tigers opened the second quarter on a 12-2 run to lead 32-16 midway through the frame. But the Fire closed the gap in the final minutes of the first half, finishing on a 7-0 run to make it 35-25 at halftime.

After committing a season-high 36 points in Friday’s semifinal win over Southern Oregon, DWU only had three turnovers in the first half and finished the game with eight. The Fire committed 16 turnovers in the loss.

“We emphasized taking care of the ball after (Friday’s) game,” Osthus said. “Everyone was shooting well and that opened up the passing lanes.”

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Southeastern pulled within eight points at 43-35, but back-to-back 3-pointers by Ashley Bray and Cheeseman bumped the Tigers’ lead to 14 at 49-35. Once again, the Fire answered with an 8-0 run to make it 49-43, but Ashley Bray and Cheeseman hit 3-pointers as DWU took a 57-45 lead in the final quarter.

Ashley Bray hit her sixth 3-pointer to give DWU an 18-point lead early in the fourth quarter. She would hit two more shots from deep and the Tigers did enough to kill clock down the stretch to earn the win.

“We knew they were hitting the 3’s,” Nagel said. “It was important to keep the ball moving and keep moving around We didn’t stand around. We moved the ball, moved each other and found them open.”

Christensen credited his team’s composure throughout the game and added his team his embracing the underdog role.

“We have nothing to lose. Let’s go out and have fun and see what happens,” Christensen said. “We are going to keep playing hard.”

The Tigers will take on Saint Xavier or Hastings in the first national semifinal at 6 p.m. on Monday. The game will also be broadcasted on ESPN3.

NOTES: DWU’s 15 3-pointers were two shy of the tournament record of 17, set by Morningside in 2004.

 

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Dakota Wesleyan 78, Southeastern (Fla.) 64

Dakota Wesleyan (30-6): Chesney Nagel 2-4 1-2 6, Amber Bray 3-7 2-2 9, Ashley Bray 8-14 2-2 26, Meghan Travis 0-0 0-0 0, Riley Osthus 3-8 2-2 9, Sam Schuh 0-0 0-0 0, Mikaela Stofferahn 0-1 0-0 0, Sarah Carr 1-3 0-0 2, Kynedi Cheeseman 6-12 4-4 20, Makaela Karst 0-0 0-0 0, Jessica Mieras 2-9 2-2 6, Mateya Walder 0-0 0-0 0, Madison Mathews 0-1 0-0 0, Kacey Bartscher 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 25-59 13-14 78

Southeastern (31-1): Sarah Beth Richter 0-1 0-0 0, Sofija Pejcic 1-1 0-0 3, Greta Knower 0-0 0-0 0, Trisha Jacobs 0-3 0-0 0, Marlena Schmidt 5-9 0-3 10, Halee Printz 3-8 3-4 11, Anissa Toumi 1-2 2-2 4, Jaycee Coe 4-11 0-0 11, Maja Michalska 2-5 0-0 4, Emma Karamovic 3-10 1-1 9, Megan Mosbach 0-0 0-0 0, Ana Richter 4-6 3-4 12. Totals 23-56 9-14 64

SE 14 25 45 64

DWU 20 35 57 78

Field goal pct: DWU .424, SE .411. 3-pt field goals: DWU 15-34 (Nagel 1-3, Bray 1-3, Bray 8-13, Osthus 1-2, Carr 0-2, Cheeseman 4-9, Mieras 0-1, Mathews 0-1), SE 9-25 (Pejcic 1-1, Jacobs 0-1, Printz 2-4, Coe 3-9, Michalska 0-1, Karamovic 2-6, Richter 1-3). Rebounds: DWU 34 (Osthus 8), SE 35 (Schmidt 9). Fouls DWU 14, SE 17. Fouled out: Schmidt. Technical: none. Assists: DWU 21 (Osthus 7), SE 15 (Coe 3, Richter 3). Steals: DWU 7 (Bray 3), SE 5 (Printz 2). Blocked shots: DWU 0, SE 4 (Schmidt 2). Turnovers: DWU 8, SE 16. A -- 1657.

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