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Outside shooting hands Tigers first loss

For the first time this season, the Dakota Wesleyan University women's basketball team went down. The No. 1 Tigers (13-1, 8-1 GPAC) fell to the hands of No. 3 Concordia University (12-1, 8-1 GPAC) 82-68 Saturday at the Corn Palace.

Dakota Wesleyan University's Sarah Carr (40) drives to the basket as Concordia University's Philomena Lammers (42) defends during a Great Plains Athletic Conference game on Saturday at the Corn Palace. (Matt Gade / Republic)
Dakota Wesleyan University's Sarah Carr (40) drives to the basket as Concordia University's Philomena Lammers (42) defends during a Great Plains Athletic Conference game on Saturday at the Corn Palace. (Matt Gade / Republic)

For the first time this season, the Dakota Wesleyan University women's basketball team went down. The No. 1 Tigers (13-1, 8-1 GPAC) fell to the hands of No. 3 Concordia University (12-1, 8-1 GPAC) 82-68 Saturday at the Corn Palace.

Both coaches expected the game to be decided by post play, but despite DWU's 32-24 advantage in points in the paint, it had no answer for Concordia's strong outside shooting.

Concordia ranks eighth in the GPAC in 3-point percentage (30.9), but it surprised even its own coachby sinking 14 of 33 (42.4 percent) threes to top DWU.

"I would say it's a little surprise, based on our percentage to start the year," Concordia coach Drew Olson said. "But I know we have a really good shooting team, we just haven't shown it so far this year. I think our kids had a little better mindset coming into the game."

Meanwhile, the Tigers' shooting struggles were evident.

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DWU coach Jason Christensen said Concordia rushed them, resulting in an 0-for-10 start from deep until Alexandria native Kynedi Cheeseman nailed one with 5:02 left in the third. DWU finished 2 of 18 (11.1 percent) from deep.

"Forty-two of their points were from the 3-point line, that's tough to beat any team," Christensen said. "When you make 42 points from the 3-point line, you're going to have a good chance to win that game."

A game to build on

Christensen often said at the start of the year that this season would be a process, and until Saturday, the process had ups and downs, but didn't have a blemish. As the Tigers approach the midway point of the season with their first loss, they "still have a long way to go," Christensen said.
"There's not a kid in the locker room that's not upset about (the loss)," Christensen said. "... Every one of them knows if they did this or this, or changed this, it'd be a difference of two points here or there."

Despite the loss, the Tigers are still fourth in the GPAC in points per game (79.4) and allow the fewest points per contest (60.7). They're also top five in field-goal percentage (46.1), field-goal percentage defense (38.9) and assists per game (16.6).

One loss also won't make or break DWU's season given the GPAC has seven ranked teams, including four in the top 10. DWU was also the final unbeaten team in the conference, with Concordia and Morningside both owning one loss, too.

"I honestly think at the end of the year, the team that wins the conference might have four losses," Christensen said prior to Saturday's contest. "That's how much parity I think we have in our conference."

Traveling to Florida

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DWU won't be at the friendly confines of the Corn Palace for the next week, as it travels to West Palm Beach, Florida, for two games at the West Palm Invite. The Tigers start at noon Wednesday against Keiser University, though the headliner is a 3:45 p.m. Friday showdown with No. 12 St. Francis (Ill.).

While DWU can potentially add another top-25 win to its resume, it'd in turn also help the GPAC. Concordia will also get a challenge as it faces No. 2 Southeastern University (Fla.) in Arizona.

"Us teams on top of the (GPAC), I think (playing tough non-conference games) is what helps our conference out," Christensen said. "I think our conference, we want to win, but we go after quality opponents so we can see how many teams we can get into the national tournament."

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