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Tigers outduel Lancers in OT, clinch NAIA tournament berth

YANKTON--Never count out the Dakota Wesleyan University women's basketball team. With one minute remaining in regulation, the No. 3-seeded Tigers faced a four-point deficit against second-seeded Mount Marty and found a way to force overtime. In f...

Dakota Wesleyan University's Hope Menning, left, drives to the basket as Mount Marty's Raquel Sutera, right, tries to defend her during a Great Plains Athletic Conference women's basketball semifinal on Saturday in Yankton. (Eric Mayer/Republic)
Dakota Wesleyan University's Hope Menning, left, drives to the basket as Mount Marty's Raquel Sutera, right, tries to defend her during a Great Plains Athletic Conference women's basketball semifinal on Saturday in Yankton. (Eric Mayer/Republic)

YANKTON-Never count out the Dakota Wesleyan University women's basketball team.

With one minute remaining in regulation, the No. 3-seeded Tigers faced a four-point deficit against second-seeded Mount Marty and found a way to force overtime.

In front of raucous, capacity crowd of 1,321 at Cimpl Arena, DWU rode strong post play and perfect free-throw shooting to outduel the Lancers 82-78 in overtime on Saturday.

The win clinched both a Great Plains Athletic Conference tournament championship spot and a NAIA national tournament berth for the first time since the 2003-04 season. DWU (25-7) plays No. 1 Morningside on Tuesday in Sioux City, Iowa.

"It was crazy, but we wanted it more," said DWU junior Erica Herrold, who scored a field goal with 20 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter to tie the game. "We made a lot of free throws and took the ball to the hole."

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Herrold's bucket tied the game at 74 and a game-winning shot by Mount Marty's Alex Kneeland skipped off the rim to force overtime.

In the extra period, Amber Bray and Gabby Frykbo each knocked down two free throws to break a 78-78 tie and give DWU a four-point lead. The lead was big enough for the Tigers to hold on for the win.

"Our defense dug in," DWU head coach Jason Christensen said after the game. "I can't say enough good things about our kids. They just kept fighting and fighting."

DWU went a perfect 21-of-21 from the foul line and were able to stop Kneeland, who had a game-high 35 points, when it matter the most.

"We didn't miss a free throw, we couldn't have played a much better game," said Christensen, who picked up his second postseason win with the Tigers. "Our kids executed down the stretch, we lost a lot of close games last year with this group, and I think our team has matured. We know how to finish games now."

For Mount Marty head coach Tom Schlimgen, the loss boiled down to the Lancer's inability to defend the lane. The Lancer's troubles protecting the rim surfaced after senior Raquel Sutera fouled out with nine minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.

"They got too many baskets inside on us and we didn't defend the lane as good as we did the last time we played them," Schlimgen said. "It's not a season-ending loss, so we have a lot of things to look forward to."

Once the 6-foot forward and Tabor native fouled out, DWU made it point to get more looks inside the paint.

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"Our kids knew right when Sutera fouled out to get the ball inside," Christensen said. "I didn't even have to say anything. We valued possessions, and I was very proud of how my team valued those possessions."

Herrold finished with 22 points to lead the Tigers, while Kristin Sabers added 17 points, Ashley Bray had 14 and Rylie Osthus chipped in 10 points.

"We have four bigs and we looked for the mismatch on offense," Herrold said. "We'll enjoy this win tonight, but we are back at it tomorrow, to prepare for Tuesday."

The Tigers went 26-of-61 from the field for 43 percent, 9-of-25 from behind the arc for 36 percent and won the rebounding battle 38-30.

"It was good for us to have a game like this heading into the national tournament," Christensen said. "We are going to the national tournament. We were picked to finish eighth and now the worst we can finish is second. I'm very proud of this team."

Mount Marty (22-10), ranked No. 14 in the nation, went 23-of-55 from the field for 42 percent, 12-of-28 from deep and 20-of-24 from the line in the loss. Logan Wagner, a Parkston native, and Sammy Kasowski each added 14 points for the Lancers, who are expected to earn a NAIA tournament at-large berth.

Christensen said his team will enjoy the victory but get back in the gym on Sunday to prepare for the GPAC championship.

"Our kids are working to get better and we know we can still get better," Christensen said. "That's been a key for us all season to not get satisfied."

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DWU 21 39 54 74 82

MM 22 38 55 74 78

Dakota Wesleyan (25-7)

Rylie Osthus 4-9 0-0 10 Erica Herrold 6-14 8-8 22 Ashley Bray 5-12 2-2 14 Kelsey Bertram 1-2 0-0 3 Amber Bray 1-6 6-6 8 Gabby Frykbo 2-5 2-2 8 Hope Menning 0-0 0-0 0 Madison Kuehl 0-0 0-0 0 Shanna Selby 0-0 0-0 0 Kristin Sabers 7-13 3-3 17 TOTALS 26-61 9-25

Mount Marty (22-10)

Alex Kneeland 10-19 9-9 35 Cassidy Gebhart 0-6 2-4 2 Logan Wagner 4-13 4-5 14 Kellie Winckler 0-0 2-2 2 Raquel Sutera 1-2 0-0 3 Erica Dreckman 1-2 0-0 3 Brittni Bormann 0-0 0-0 0 Denae Veldkamp 0-0 0-0 0 Mikayla Prouty 1-3 0-0 3 Sammy Kasowski 6-9 1-2 14 Samantha Blake 0-1 2-2 2 TOTALS 23-55 20-24

3-point goals: DWU: 9-25 (Osthus 2, Herrold 2, As. Bray 2, Frykbo 2, Bertram), MM 12-28 (Kneeland 6, Wagner 2, Sutera, Dreckman, Prouty, Kasowski); Assists: DWU 19 (Herrold 4), MM 7 (Wagner 2); Rebounds: DWU 38 (Am. Bray 8), MM 30 (Winckler 6); Fouls: DWU 27, MM 24; Turnovers: DWU 7, MM 10. Attendance: 1,321.

Related Topics: DAKOTA WESLEYAN UNIVERSITY
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