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Tiger women looking to end December on high note

Playing roughly 3,700 miles away from the Corn Palace, the Dakota Wesleyan University women's basketball is looking to close out 2016 with a pair of wins.

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Dakota Wesleyan's Rylie Osthus (10) passes the ball through a trio of Goshen College defenders during the third round of the NAIA Division II women's national tournament last season at the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City, Iowa. (Matt Gade/Republic)

Playing roughly 3,700 miles away from the Corn Palace, the Dakota Wesleyan University women's basketball is looking to close out 2016 with a pair of wins.

The No. 8 Tigers, who raced out to a 10-0 record and reached the No. 1 national ranking, have a losing record in December after suffering two three-point losses to highly ranked Great Plains Athletic Conference teams earlier this month.

After dealing with flight delays and travel issues, DWU is focused on picking up two wins at the Hoop 'N Surf Classic in Honolulu, Hawaii. The Tigers landed in Hawaii around 6:30 p.m. Central time Monday.

"It'll be big if we can do that," DWU head coach Jason Christensen said about how important closing out 2016 with two wins would be. "I'd like to say we're rested. We haven't touched a basketball in the past 48 hours with the travel to get here. We have to go practice outside because there's no open gyms, but we're not gonna make excuses."

The Tigers (11-2, 5-2 GPAC) take on No. 17 Indiana Tech at 2:30 p.m. today (11:30 a.m. in Hawaii). DWU's second game is against Grace College (Ind.) at 2:30 p.m. Central time on Wednesday.

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Christensen said Indiana Tech will pose some issues for DWU but added he's focused on his team.

"We haven't had good starts lately, so we are going to change some things up," Christensen said. "We have to clean up our turnovers. Defensively, we're doing well and we can still do better, but we have to avoid turnovers and we have to do a better job starting games."

With the postponement of Saturday's contest with College of Saint Mary, the Tigers will only play five games in the month of December, compared to 11 games (including two exhibitions) in November.

DWU fell to then-No. 7 Concordia (85-82) on Dec. 3 and seven days later, dropped a contest to then-No. 14 Hastings (65-62).

Three GPAC teams are competing in the tournament, as DWU, Doane and Concordia are all competing. In total, seven different NAIA women's basketball teams are competing in the Hoop 'N Surf Classic. Concordia topped Indiana Tech 68-57 on Monday.

Former Jones County standout joining Tigers

When DWU returns from Hawaii, the Tigers will be adding a player.

Christensen announced Madison Mathews will transfer from the University of Sioux Falls to Dakota Wesleyan for the winter semester.

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Mathews, a 5-foot-7 guard, was a two-time Class B all-state selection for Jones County, where she averaged 20.3 points during her senior season (2014-15).

"We recruited her pretty hard, but she wanted to try compete at the D-II level," Christensen said. "She's a good kid. A competitor and she'll fit in well."

Christensen added USF head coach Travis Traphagen contacted him about Mathews possibly joining the Tigers. Mathews can't play on the court for DWU until school resumes, but Christensen said the "versatile guard" will officially join the team for practice on Dec. 28. Classes for DWU resume on Jan. 9. Transferring from NCAA Division II to NAIA Division II does not require Mathews to sit out and she will have two-and-a-half years of eligibility.

As a freshman for the Cougars, Mathews, who will study nursing at DWU, appeared in 11 games. This year, she's played in eight games and scored two points.

Related Topics: DAKOTA WESLEYAN UNIVERSITY
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