MITCHELL, S.D. – The Dakota Wesleyan University women’s basketball team picked up its biggest win of the season – and for the past several seasons – Sunday afternoon when it upset Concordia University, ranked No. 2 in the NAIA, 72-61 at the Corn Palace.
The win is the first win against a top-five team in the nation since the Tigers upset Northwestern College – ranked No. 3 in the NAIA at the time – 75-66 at the Corn Palace on Feb. 11, 2009. It is the second win against a ranked team for the Tigers – who are receiving votes in the NAIA – this season. Dakota Wesleyan upset No. 25 Hastings 75-53 earlier this season at the Corn Palace.
The big win keeps Dakota Wesleyan (16-6, 7-5 Great Plains Athletic Conference) nearly perfect at home this season. The Tigers are 10-1 on the Corn Palace floor, with their only loss coming to No. 3 Morningside College. With the win, Dakota Wesleyan matched its win total from the 2011-12 season. The Tigers finished 16-15 last season.
Dakota Wesleyan led by as many as 14 – 44-30 – with 15:26 left to play against the Bulldogs, who are now 18-2 overall and 11-2 in the league. From there, however, Concordia went on a 22-5 run that spanned more than eight minutes and ended with a three-point Tiger lead, 52-49, with 7:02 to play. DWU pushed its lead back to seven, but a 9-2 run by Concordia tied the game at 58 with 3:12 remaining.
Amanda Hart gave the Tigers a three-point lead on a 3-pointer with 2:45 to play, and extended the lead to five on a pair of free throws with 2:04 left to play. Celeste Beck pushed the Tigers’ lead to eight, 66-58, on a 3-pointer with 1:27 left in the game. Kristen Conahan hit a three with 1:11 left to make it a five-point game, but Dakota Wesleyan outscored the Bulldogs 6-0 in the final minute of the game to pull off the upset.
After DWU scored the first four points of the game, Concordia grabbed a 6-4 lead on a layup by Katie Rich, but the Tigers answered and pushed their lead to seven, 13-6, with 14:23 left in the half. Conahan hit several threes to give the Bulldogs a slim lead, including a 19-16 lead with 9:36 left in the half. The Bulldogs took a lead again on a pair of layups by Jericca Pearson to make it 23-20 with 6:58 to go in the half, but Taylor Piper scored and Brittany Hills hit a three to put DWU up 25-23.
The Tigers pushed their lead to eight, and a three by Beck and layup by Kim Johnson made it 36-27 at halftime. That marked just the second time this season the Bulldogs have trailed at halftime. DWU started the second half on an 8-3 run to go up 44-30 and set up its biggest win of the year.
Kim Johnson led all scorers with 18 points for Dakota Wesleyan, which held Concordia well below its season average of more than 84 points per game. She also had eight rebounds and six assists. Beck added 12 points, Hart finished with 10 points and seven rebounds and Elizabeth Lamb had 10 points and 11 rebounds. The Tigers shot 46.3 percent from the field and hit six 3-pointers. They went 16-for-18 from the line, out-rebounded the Bulldogs 45-38 and had 24 turnovers.
Conahan hit four threes and led Concordia with 16 points. Rich added 12 points and seven rebounds and Pearson finished with 11 points and nine rebounds. Bailey Morris finished with nine rebounds, eight points and seven assists for the Bulldogs, who shot just 29.6 percent from the field. Concordia went 13-for-21 from the line and had 16 turnovers.Dakota Wesleyan is back at home Wednesday, Jan. 23, when it hosts Mount Marty College at 6 p.m. The Tigers are calling for a whiteout and encourage all fans to wear white to the game.