SIOUX CITY, Iowa – Thanks to dominating defense throughout, the Dakota Wesleyan University women's basketball team advanced past Saint Francis University (Ill.), 63-49 in the second round of the NAIA Division II Women's Basketball National Championships, presented by Riverside Technologies and Seaboard Triumph Foods, Friday at the Tyson Events Center.
The Fighting Saints (24-9) wasted no time offensively with an easy layup seconds into the game. The Tigers (30-5) responded with a wide open Kynedi Cheeseman (Alexandria, S.D.) 3-pointer to grab the lead. Moments later, good ball movement led to a 3-point shot by Madison Mathews (Draper, S.D.) to open up an 8-2 lead.
Both teams traded baskets down the stretch and the Tigers would get a quick basket before the end of the quarter to hold a 14-13 lead at the end of the first stanza.
In the second quarter, DWU began to find their offensive stride as Cheeseman nailed a basket followed by a 3-pointer to push the DWU lead to five points. Both teams stepped up the defensive intensity as they struggled to find the basket down the stretch of the opening half. The Tigers had a chance for the final shot of the half but Sarah Carr's (Huron, S.D.) shot was not in time and both teams settled for a 25-22 DWU lead.
The defenses shined in the beginning moments of the second half as neither team scored a field goal until the 7:40 mark of the third quarter as the Fighting Saints scored a layup. The Tigers finally scored after three minutes after Carr cut to the basket for an easy layup to tie the game.
The DWU offense began to find their rhythm as Cheeseman connected on back-to-back baskets to put the Tigers up 39-35.
The Tigers began the final quarter quickly as Cheeseman made consecutive baskets to push the lead to eight points. However, SFU fought back within two points with six minutes to play.
Carr answered back with a pair of free throws and a layup to push the lead back to six points midway through the fourth period. With four minutes to play, Cheeseman found Osthus in the corner as she found nothing but net to put the Tigers up eight points.
A few possessions later, Madison Mathews (Draper, S.D.) threw the ball to a cutting Carr who made the layup putting DWU up by double digits. One possession later, good defense led to quick offense as the Tigers stole the ball and ended up with a Cheeseman layup.
With DWU leading by 15 points and a minute left to play, the Tigers made their free throws to help secure the victory and push them onto the quarterfinals.
Cheeseman led all scorers with 28 points, while Carr added 17 points and eight rebounds. Mathews chipped in six points and five rebounds, as Osthus tallied seven points and six rebounds. The Tigers shot 43 percent from the field, forced 12 turnovers and recorded six steals.
"Defensively we were really good," head coach Jason Christensen commented after the game. "In the second half we were able to make adjustments and we were able to get some better looks."
The Tigers will play the winner of Corban University and Taylor University at 6 p.m. tomorrow at the Tyson Events Center.