SIOUX CITY, Iowa – Trailing by three points, Kynedi Cheeseman (Alexandria, S.D.) heaved up a half-court shot that bounced off the backboard as the Dakota Wesleyan University women's basketball team's season came to an end. DWU fell in double-overtime to Southeastern University (Fla.), 78-75 in the NAIA Division II Women's Basketball National Championship Semifinals, presented by Riverside Technologies and Seaboard Triumph Foods, Monday at the Tyson Events Center.
The Fire (31-2) began the game on a 9-0 run, but Cheeseman ended the run on a put back floater, followed by a Rylie Osthus (De Smet, S.D.) 3-pointer to cut the Southeastern early lead to four points.
After missed shots by both teams, Cheeseman drilled a 3-point basket to cut the lead to one point. After the Fire connected on a 3-pointer, Makaela Karst (Plankinton, S.D.) converted on her own 3-pointer to keep pace with Southeastern. After one quarter of play, Southeastern led 17-11.
In the second quarter, Cheeseman tallied a 3-pointer to open up the quarter, but the Fire scored on back-to-back possessions to maintain their lead. Cheeseman once again hit consecutive 3-pointers to collect all of the Tiger (31-6) second quarter points halfway through the period.
Cheeseman connected on her fifth 3-pointer of the night to give DWU its' first lead of the game at 27-26. Moments later, Sydney Halling (Harrisburg, S.D.) was left all alone underneath the basket for an easy layup to get the lead back to one point. At the end of the quarter, the Fire added free throws to take a 33-29 lead at halftime.
Madison Mathews (Draper, S.D.) opened the third quarter with a corner 3-pointer in front of the DWU bench to pull the Tigers within one point. Two possessions later, Mathews hit another 3-point basket from the same spot to tie the game at 35.
SEU responded with a 3-point basket and a steal to retake the lead. Kaylee Kirk (Balaton, Minn.) responded with another corner 3-pointer to pull DWU within four points. On the following offensive possession, Cheeseman bounced the inbounds pass off her defender and made the layup after getting fouled. She made the ensuing free throw to make it a one-point game.
The Fire ended the third quarter on a 4-0 spurt to hold a 48-43 lead heading to the final quarter. Osthus got off to a hot start in the fourth period as she hit back-to-back jumpers to make it a one-point game again.
Both offenses went idle midway through the fourth quarter as the score remained 51-49 with the Fire leading. Cheeseman ended the scoring drought with a floater in the paint to tie the game at 51 with 4:30 to play.
On the next possession, Osthus kicked the ball out to Mathews who nailed a 3-pointer to give the Tigers a 54-53 lead. The offenses got into a rhythm as they traded baskets over the next few minutes as SEU held a 59-56 lead. However, Osthus tied the game with a 3-pointer moments later.
With the clock winding down, Cheeseman snagged the offensive rebound and tied the game with a layup. The Fire were unable to get their shot off in time as the game headed to overtime, tied at 61.
Both teams traded baskets to begin overtime as the score remained tied at 67 with under 2:30 to play. SEU took a 69-67 lead thanks to a layup with a minute to play. Following a pair of Carr free throws, the game was tied at 69. With under two seconds to play, Carr tossed up a shot that did not find the bottom of the bucket as the teams headed to a second overtime tied at 69.
With two minutes to play, Cheeseman drove through the lane and found a cutting Karst who made the layup to take a two-point lead. After SEU took a one-point lead moments later, Carr added a layup to give the Tigers a 75-74 advantage. However, the lead was short-lived as the Fire made a layup on the other end to regain the one-point lead with 34 seconds to play.
On the final possession of the second overtime, Kirk drove to the basket but had the layup blocked. DWU fouled the Fire player to send her to the free-throw line. The SEU player missed her first but made her second free throw to make it a three-point game. With less than four seconds remaining, Cheeseman had one final shot from half court, but the shot missed to halt the Tiger season in the semifinals.
Cheeseman recorded a career-high 32 points and 14 rebounds, as Osthus tallied 14 points, eight boards and six assists. Mathews poured in nine points and five rebounds, while Carr notched eight points and 11 rebounds.
DWU shot 32.9 percent from the field and 40 percent from 3-point range. The Tigers held SEU to 18.5 percent shooting from 3-point range, while outrebounding the Fire 59-48.
The Tiger season concludes with an overall record of 31-6, making the national semifinals for the second-consecutive season for the second time in program history.