SIOUX CITY, Iowa – In a game where they never trailed, the Dakota Wesleyan University women's basketball team shot past Southeastern University (Fla.), 78-64 thanks to 15 made 3-pointers in the quarterfinals of the NAIA Division II Women's Basketball Championship, presented by Mercy Medical Center and Seaboard Triumph Foods, Saturday at the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City, Iowa.
In the early stages of the game, Kynedi Cheeseman (Alexandria, S.D.) and Ashley Bray (Anoka, Minn.) nailed back-to-back 3-pointers to give DWU a 6-1 lead. Holding a two-point lead, Rylie Osthus (De Smet, S.D.) knocked down a jump shot, forcing the Southeastern timeout.
With the score tied at 14, the Tigers went on a 6-0 run to end the first quarter thanks to baskets by Osthus, Amber Bray (Anoka, Minn.) and Chesney Nagel (Springfield, S.D.). DWU came storming out in the second quarter as they opened up with a 15-4 run. The run was kickstarted by an Ashley Bray three-point shot. Jessica Mieras (Sioux Falls, S.D.) chipped in four-straight points after knocking down a pair of free throws and a jump shot in the paint.
The run continued as Nagel found herself open beyond the arc and drained the 3-pointer. With 3:33 left in the first half, Cheeseman added another 3-pointer for the Tigers to make it a 35-18 ballgame. However, the Fire ended the first half on a 7-0 run to make it 35-25 in the favor of the Tigers at halftime. The Tigers used quick ball movement to get open shots throughout the first half as they finished with 11 assists on 14 field goals made.
Opening up the third quarter, Ashley Bray and Amber Bray connected on back-to-back 3-pointers to give DWU a 41-28 lead. After Southeastern cut the deficit to single digits, the Tigers went back up by 14 points thanks to 3-pointers by Ashley Bray and Cheeseman.
Just like they opened up the game and the second half, the Tigers opened up the fourth quarter with two 3-pointer, this time by Osthus and Ashley Bray. DWU continued to fire away from beyond the arc as they held a double-digit lead for the remainder of the final quarter, on their way to their first Fab Four appearance since 2003.
"I think our composure was really good," women's head basketball coach Jason Christensen said. "This was the first time we weren't the biggest team on the court. They were undefeated and the real deal, but we just found ways to win."
Ashley Bray led all scorers with 26 points on 8-of-13 shooting from downtown, along with six rebounds. Cheeseman added 20 points, while Osthus and Amber Bray notched nine points apiece. The 15 made 3-pointers in the contest was two three-point shots away from tying an NAIA Division II Women's Basketball National Championship record. DWU shot 42 percent from the field and 44 percent from three-point range. The Tigers forced 16 turnovers and held the Fire to 64 points, who average 84.5 points per game entering today's game.
DWU will play in the Fab Four against either Hastings College, or Saint Xavier (Ill.) at 6 p.m. Monday at the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City, Iowa.