SIOUX CITY, Iowa – The Dakota Wesleyan University women’s basketball team ended its historic season Wednesday night with an 80-67 loss to Briar Cliff University in a Great Plains Athletic Conference Tournament quarterfinal game in Sioux City, Iowa.
The Tigers finished the year 20-11, marking just the fourth 20-win season in DWU women’s basketball history. This year marked the first time since 2003-04 the Tigers have won 20 games, and the second winning season in the past five years. Dakota Wesleyan was ranked in the NAIA Top 25 Coaches’ Poll for the first time since 2003-04 this year, making it has high as No. 24. Dakota Wesleyan beat three ranked opponents, including No. 2 Concordia and No. 9 Briar Cliff University, this season. The win against Concordia marked the first win against a top-five team since upsetting Northwestern in 2009.
It was also a big year for several individuals. This weekend, junior Kim Johnson became the 17th player in DWU women’s basketball history to score 1,000 career points with a 20-point performance against Briar Cliff. Wednesday night, teammate Amanda Hart scored the 1,000th point of her Tiger career. Hart, a junior, needed five points to hit the milestone, and scored six points in DWU’s loss to the Chargers to finish the season with 1,001 career points. She also set the record for 3-pointers in a career with 284 in three seasons.
Dakota Wesleyan entered Wednesday game coming off a 24-point win over the Chargers – ranked No. 9 in the NAIA at the time – but the Tigers couldn’t seem to carry any of that momentum over. The Tigers came out cold, and shot just 25 percent in the first half. Briar Cliff went on a 12-4 run to start the game, and led 19-8 with 9:07 left in the half. Back-to-back baskets by Kim Johnson made it a five-point game, 21-16, with 7:46 left in the half, and the Tigers later made it a four-point game on a basket by Katie Johnson, but the Chargers always had an answer.
A free throw by Taylor Piper made it a five-point game, 28-23, with 3:19 left before halftime, but the Chargers banked in a 3-pointer at the buzzer to make it a 10-point game, 37-27.
Briar Cliff pushed its lead to 12 to start the second half, and made it a 13-point game, 50-37, with 15:24 left to play. The Tigers put together a 9-0 run that included a three by Celeste Beck to make it a three-point game, 53-50, with 10:57 left, but Kelsey Evans hit a pair of free throws and the Chargers got a steal and a layup to push their lead back to seven, 57-50, and their lead never wavered from there.
Kim Johnson finished with 16 points to pace the Tigers, who shot just 31.2 percent from the field. Brittany Hills added 13 points and Elizabeth Lamb added 11 in their final games as a Tiger. Hills also had eight rebounds. DWU went 6-for-30 from long range and 13-for-19 from the line. The Tigers had 26 turnovers.
Slone Masters led all scorers with 19 points for the Chargers (23-8). She also had 12 rebounds. Heather Haber added 13 points and Sarah Reeves had 12, and Evans finished with nine points and 13 rebounds. Briar Cliff shot 36.2 percent from the field, went 29-for-39 from the line, out rebounded DWU 58-45 and had 25 rebounds. The Chargers play Morningside Saturday in a semifinal game.
Lamb and Hills are the Tigers’ only two seniors. Dakota Wesleyan returns many key players, including Hart and Johnson, in 2013-14.