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Playing to win: DWU women top Chargers to end losing skid

The No. 4 Dakota Wesleyan University women's basketball team had a little extra motivation on Wednesday at the Corn Palace. It had suffered its first back-to-back losses of the season last week and dropped a few spots in the coaches' poll. But th...

Dakota Wesleyan University's Sydney Halling (34) shoots around Briar Cliff's Alyssa Carley (1) during a Great Plains Athletic Conference game on Wednesday at the Corn Palace. (Matt Gade / Republic)
Dakota Wesleyan University's Sydney Halling (34) shoots around Briar Cliff's Alyssa Carley (1) during a Great Plains Athletic Conference game on Wednesday at the Corn Palace. (Matt Gade / Republic)

The No. 4 Dakota Wesleyan University women's basketball team had a little extra motivation on Wednesday at the Corn Palace.

It had suffered its first back-to-back losses of the season last week and dropped a few spots in the coaches' poll. But the Tigers' (20-3, 13-3 GPAC) motivation and energy showed as they controlled the game on both ends of the court in an 88-43 win over Briar Cliff in Great Plains Athletic Conference play.

"We had a long talk the last few days about you can't be afraid to make mistakes, you have to play with your heart," DWU coach Jason Christensen said. "You can't go out and play not to lose-you have to play to win. Today, I thought we did that. We played with no fear."

The Chargers (12-11, 6-9 GPAC) stayed close early by hitting a trio of 3-pointers and playing a tough zone defense. That said, Rylie Osthus started quick, scoring eight of her 15 points in the first. She also added nine assists, four rebounds and three steals.

"I think it was just a matter of playing loose, playing to win and having fun with my teammates," Osthus said on her fast start.

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The script flipped in the second. DWU's energy continued to grow, while Briar Cliff struggled to keep the ball and stopped hitting from deep.

Poor passes, active hands and DWU jumping passing lanes led to 14 Tiger takeaways in the quarter turning into 13 points. It resulted in the Chargers shooting 1-for-10 from the field in the quarter and going on a 1-for-16 stretch following the first quarter. Briar Cliff finished shooting 32.6 percent from the field and 4-for-14 from 3.

"In general, our intensity was so much better than last week," Osthus said. "We got tipped passes, ball pressure and rebounds. It was just a good defensive effort and we had each other's backs tonight."

Meanwhile, DWU's offense only got stronger as the faster pace limited the effectiveness of Briar Cliff's zone. It attacked the basket, with its first seven field-goal attempts of the second coming at the basket.

The Tigers shot 17-for-33 (51.5 percent) from the field in the second and third quarters, which included five 3s in the third to take a 39-18 halftime lead and 64-28 lead after three. DWU finished shooting 50 percent from the field and 12 of 24 from 3-point range.

Sarah Carr scored her 1,000th career point in the fourth quarter, too, as she finished with 18 and eight rebounds, though Alexandria native Kynedi Cheeseman led the second-half surge. Cheeseman went 6 of 8 after the break, including four 3s, as she finished with a team-high 21 points, along with five assists. Sydney Halling also scored 10.

No Charger reached double figures, though Taylor Vasa, Logan Ehlers and Taylor Wagner all scored six.

DWU plays Morningside College at 2 p.m. Saturday in Sioux City, Iowa.

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No. 4 Dakota Wesleyan University 88, Briar Cliff University 43

Dakota Wesleyan (20-3): Kynedi Cheeseman 7-14 3-3 21, Sarah Carr 7-15 2-2 18, Rylie Osthus 6-8 0-0 15, Sydney Halling 5-6 0-2 10, Madison Mathews 3-7 2-2 9, Sam Schuh 2-4 2-2 8, Makaela Karst 1-2 1-2 3, Natalie Gottlob 0-0 2-2 2, Shannon O'Malley 0-0 2-2 2, Kaylee Kirk 0-5 0-0 0, Rebecca Buchholz 0-0 0-0 0, Kathryn Parsley 0-0 0-0 0, Meghan Travis 0-1 0-0 0. Team totals: 31-62, 14-17 88.

Briar Cliff (12-11): Taylor Vasa 3-7 0-0 6, Taylor Wagner 1-9 3-4 6, Logan Ehlers 2-5 1-2 6, Breanna Allen 1-1 2-4 5, Paityn Hagberg 1-3 2-2 5, Mya Hendry 2-3 0-0 4, Faith Troshynski 1-2 1-2 3, Sarah Dreckman 1-1 0-0 2, Jadyn Bussinger 1-3 0-0 2, Anna Reifenrath 1-1 0-0 2, Ashley Hohenstein 0-1 1-2 1, Madelyn Deitchler 0-1 1-4 1, Patricia Martinez 0-0 0-0 0, Alyssa Carley 0-6 0-0 0. Team totals: 14-43 11-20 43.

DWU 18 39 64 88

BC 14 18 28 43

3-pointers: DWU 12-24 (Cheeseman 4-8, Osthus 3-4, Carr 2-4, Schuh 2-3, Mathews 1-4, Kirk 0-1); BC 4-14 (Wagner 1-4, Allen 1-1, Hagberg 1-3, Ehlers 1-1, Bussinger 0-1, Carley 0-4). Rebounds: DWU 28 (Carr 8, Osthus 4, Mathews 4); BC 28 (Vasa 5). Assists: DWU 23 (Osthus 9, Cheeseman 5); BC 6 (Deitchler 2). Steals: DWU 11 (Osthus 3, Halling 3); BC 5 (Hendry 3). Blocked shots: DWU 4 (Karst 3); BC 3 (Carley 1, Vasa 1, Hagberg 1). Turnovers: DWU 9; BC 22. Team fouls: DWU 18; BC 16. A: 2,507.

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