MITCHELL, S.D. – After recording its first winning season in four years and earning the eighth seed in the Great Plains Athletic Conference postseason tournament in 2011-12, that’s exactly where the league’s coaches picked the Dakota Wesleyan University women’s basketball team to finish in 2012-13.
The Tigers, who went 7-13 in conference play and earned the No. 8 seed in the conference tournament, were picked to finish eighth in the GPAC Preseason Coaches’ Poll, which was released Thursday by the league. Dakota Wesleyan received 38 points and finished ahead of Doane College (27), Midland University (23) and Nebraska Wesleyan University (15).
Concordia University – which won the league’s regular and postseason titles – received seven first-place votes and was picked to repeat as league champion. Northwestern College – which won the NAIA Division II National Championship – was picked second and received four first-place votes. Morningside College, Briar Cliff University and Hastings College round out the top five.
Dakota Wesleyan went 16-15 overall and recorded its first winning record since going 17-15 in 2007-08. The Tigers finished 7-13 in the GPAC. DWU’s signature win came on Jan. 15 against Hastings College when Brittany Hills hit a 3-pointer with seconds left on the clock to lift the Tigers to a 50-47 win over the Broncos, who were ranked No. 14 in the NAIA at the time. The Tigers played close games with several other GPAC teams – many of which were highly ranked in the NAIA – but came up just short. This year, DWU is hoping to come out on the winning end of those close games.
Back to lead the Tigers in 2012-13 is a core of players who have seen plenty of playing time over the past few seasons. Amanda Hart returns as the team’s leading scorer after averaging 11.4 points per game her sophomore season. She led the GPAC and the NAIA in total threes (104) and 3-pointers per game (3.3) much of the season, and set school records for total threes and threes attempted (334) in a season. Hart earned All-GPAC Second Team honors last year.
Junior guard Taylor Piper also returns after earning All-GPAC Honorable Mention status as a sophomore. She averaged 5.9 points and 3.7 rebounds per game for the Tigers. She also led the team with 99 assists. Hills and Elizabeth Lamb return for their senior seasons. Lamb was fourth on the team with 8.2 points per game and also averaged 2.8 rebounds per game as a junior. Hills averaged 6.0 points and 4.2 rebounds last season, led the team with 48 steals and was third with 75 assists.
Also back this season is junior Kim Johnson and sophomores Celeste Beck and Katie Johnson. Kim Johnson finished third on the team with 8.7 points per game, Katie Johnson averaged five points and 3.7 rebounds and Beck finished the year with 4.9 points and 2.9 rebounds per game.
Micaela Erickson is back for Dakota Wesleyan after sitting out all of the 2011-12 season with an injury. She averaged six points and 4.5 rebounds per game as a freshman. Head coach Jason Christensen, entering his third year with the team, signed seven new recruits in the offseason, including junior transfer Shekela Quarles and freshman Kristen Binger. Binger comes to DWU from Hitchcock-Tulare High School in South Dakota and Quarles played two seasons at Moraine Valley Community College.
The Tigers open the 2012-13 season Monday, Oct. 29, with an exhibition game at the University of Wyoming in Laramie, Wyo. DWU opens the regular season with the Corn Palace Classic Nov. 2-3. DWU hosts Mayville State at 6 p.m. Nov. 2 and Oglala Lakota College at 4 p.m. on Nov. 3.
2012-13 GPAC Women’s Basketball Preseason Poll
- Concordia, 96 (7 first-place votes)
- Northwestern, 93 (4 first-place votes)
- Morningside, 84
- Briar Cliff, 70
- Hastings, 59
- Dordt, 50
- Mount Marty, 50
- Dakota Wesleyan, 38
- Doane, 27
- Midland, 23
- Nebraska Wesleyan, 15