Tigers hold on at the end: DWU opens season with win over Valley City State

Dakota Wesleyan University women's basketball coach Jason Christensen says that Rylie Osthus is the straw that stirs the drink for the Tigers, and on Tuesday, that couldn't have been more true.

Dakota Wesleyan University's Makaela Karst (22) tries to dribble past Valley City State University's Kaitlin Connor in the first half of a NAIA women's basketball game on Tuesday at the Corn Palace. (Jeremy Karll / Republic)

Dakota Wesleyan University women’s basketball coach Jason Christensen says that Rylie Osthus is the straw that stirs the drink for the Tigers, and on Tuesday, that couldn’t have been more true.

The senior guard scored nine of her team-high 18 points in the final 2:16 to lead No. 2 DWU to a season-opening 60-55 win over No. 16 Valley City State University (1-1) at the Corn Palace.

“We finished at the end,” Christensen said. “At the end we made some free-throws down the stretch and that’s what you got to do on your home floor. You have to find wins on your home floor.”

In a back-and-forth game, DWU found a way to go into halftime up 31-20 due to holding the Vikings to six points in the second quarter. Although, it was the Tigers who struggled to score in the second half.

The Tigers still held a 40-30 lead heading into the final frame, but stronger defense from VCSU, along with DWU not doing “the little things to get ourselves open,” according to Christensen, resulted in 15 straight missed shots between the third and fourth quarter.


As a result, the Vikings to take a 41-40 lead with 6:49 remaining. Sarah Carr made her only bucket of the second half with 5:36 left to give DWU a 43-41 lead and end the drought.

Christensen said his team was playing not to lose, but with three minutes left that changed. Osthus, who also added seven rebounds and four assists in 39 minutes, took over and erased VCSU’s last lead of the game, 51-49.

“Just trusting my teammates and having confidence,” Osthus said on her fourth-quarter performance. “And they have confidence in me so it just gives me that extra incentive to really take control and play my best to pull out the win.”

The Tigers’ shooting woes were evident by its 37.5 shooting percentage and 2-for-11 3-point shooting, though the Tigers made 22 of 25 free-throws. Last year’s leading scorer, and Alexandria native, Kynedi Cheeseman missed all nine of her shots, but used a perfect 10-for-10 day at the line to notch a 10-point, 10-rebound double-double.

DWU was able to build a double-digit lead in the first half thanks to strong post play and defense.

“The thing that stood out to me was our defensive effort,” Christensen said. “Any time you can hold a team under 60 points, you’re going to have a chance to win.”

The defense picked it up after a slow start which saw VCSU score eight points in the first 1:38, including two 3s.

The increased defensive intensity led to nine turnovers and 30.4 percent shooting in the first half for the Vikings, though Osthus said DWU needs to work on keeping that intensity the entire game. VCSU shot 35.3 percent for the game and turned it over 15 times.


Despite Christensen being worried about the Vikings’ physicality, the Tigers had a 16-6 edge in points in the paint at halftime, though were outscored 14-6 in that area in the second half.

DWU’s early success was in part due to Plankinton native Makaela Karst and Carr. Karst had nine of her 11 points in the first half and also added four rebounds, while Carr grabbed three rebounds to go along with her 10 points. However, both got into foul trouble in the second half.

Sydney Halling added eight points and four rebounds for the Tigers, as well.

“Obviously we had our problems in the third quarter,” Osthus said. “But it was really nice to see our team pull it out in the fourth and get the win.”

DWU (1-0) plays Dakota State at 6 p.m. on Saturday and Presentation at 4 p.m. on Sunday at the Pentagon in Sioux Falls.

No. 2 Dakota Wesleyan 60, No. 16 Valley City State 55 Dakota Wesleyan University (1-0): Rylie Osthus 5-11 8-9 18, Makaela Karst 5-9 0-0 11, Sarah Carr 5-8 0-0 10, Kynedi Cheeseman 0-9 10-10 10, Sydney Halling 2-8 3-4 8, Madison Mathews 1-2 0-0 2, Kaylee Kirk 0-0 1-2 1, Meghan Travis 0-1 0-0 0 Rebecca Bucholz 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 18-38 22-25 60. Valley City State University (1-1): Alli Vandal 5-11 3-6 13, Hannah Schlecht 3-6 2-2 11, Mackenzie Huber 3-6 5-6 11, Kate Williams 3-10 2-2 8, Emily Schafer 2-9 0-0 5, Dierra Diegel 1-6 1-2 4, Gabby Martin 1-1 1-1 3, Kaitlin Connor 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 17-51 14-19 55. Halftime: DWU 31-20. 3-point field goals: DWU 2-11 (Karst 1-3, Halling 1-2, Osthus 0-1, Mathews 0-1, Cheeseman 0-2, Carr 0-2); VCSU 5-17 (Schlecht 3-5, Diegel 1-3, Schafer 1-2, Vandal 0-3, Williams 0-4). Rebounds: DWU 30 (Cheeseman 10, Osthus 7, Halling 4, Karst 4, Carr 3, Kirk 1, Travis 1); VCSU 32 (Huber 8, Schlecht 5, Williams 5, Vandal 4, Schafer 3, Connor 3, Diegel 3, Martin 1). Assists: DWU 11 (Osthus 4, Cheeseman 4, Karst 1, Kirk 1, Halling 1); VCSU 7 (Williams 4, Diegel 1, Schafer 1, Vandal 1, Schlecht 1). Blocks: DWU 2 (Cheeseman 1, Osthus 1); VCSU 2 (Vandal 1, Connor 1). Steals: DWU 7 (Karst 2, Mathews 2, Osthus 1, Kirk 1, Halling 1); VCSU 5 (Schlecht 2, Schafer 1, Williams 1, Huber 1). Turnovers: DWU 12; VCSU 15. Total fouls: DWU 17; VCSU 23. A: 1736.

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