ORANGE CITY, Iowa – After trailing by three points at halftime, the No. 4 Dakota Wesleyan University women's basketball team overcame the halftime deficit to defeat No. 2 Northwestern College, 75-66 Saturday in Orange City, Iowa, and secure a spot in the Great Plains Athletic Conference Championship game for the fourth-straight season.
It was a back-and-forth affair throughout, as both teams traded baskets in the first five minutes of the game. Rylie Osthus (De Smet, S.D.) gave the Tigers (28-4, 18-4 GPAC) an 8-4 lead with a jump shot. However, the Red Raiders (26-4, 19-3 GPAC) regained the lead moments later with a basket to hold an 11-10 advantage.
On the next possession, Madison Mathews (Draper, S.D.) nailed a 3-point shot to hand the lead back to DWU, 13-11. NWC held a 20-15 lead at the end of the first quarter after scoring four points in the final minute.
Sarah Carr (Huron, S.D.) kicked off the second-period scoring with a basket to pull the Tigers within three points. The Red Raiders pushed their lead to eight points following a 3-point basket after two minutes into the quarter.
DWU made it a five-point game following a Carr basket and Kynedi Cheeseman (Alexandria, S.D.) free throw. Sydney Halling (Harrisburg, S.D.) made it a one-possession game after she connected on a jump shot to make the score 29-26. With the clock winding down, freshman Kaylee Kirk (Balaton, Minn.) knocked down the corner jump shot to make it a 34-31 game at halftime.
Cheeseman kicked off the second half with a basket to begin the scoring. After the Red Raiders hit a 3-pointer, Osthus kept DWU within striking distance with another basket. The teams traded baskets until DWU called a timeout.
Coming out of the timeout, the Tigers went to a two-three zone on defense to stifle the NWC offense. The change worked as DWU went on a 14-5 run to take its' first lead since the first quarter, holding a 53-48 advantage heading to the final quarter.
Cheeseman took over in the beginning moments of the fourth period as she scored seven-straight points to give the Tigers a 60-50 lead. The Red Raiders wouldn't be denied as they added a 3-point shot to cut into the DWU lead. However, Cheeseman and Osthus added baskets to give DWU a double-digit lead with six minutes to play.
NWC put a run together with two minutes left as they cut the DWU lead to four points. On the next possession, Cheeseman sealed the game with a 3-point shot to give the Tigers a seven-point lead with 1:30 left.
Cheeseman led all scorers with 30 points on 10-of-19 shooting from the field and 9-of-11 shooting from the free-throw line. Carr added 16 points and five rebounds, while Osthus poured in 14 points, four rebounds and four assists. DWU shot 50 percent from the field and forced the Red Raiders into 17 turnovers.
The Tigers meet No. 1 Concordia University in the GPAC Championship Game for the third-consecutive season at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Seward, Neb.