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Indiana Wesleyan mounts comeback over Dickinson State women’s basketball

SIOUX CITY, Iowa -- Once taking the last at-large bid into the NAIA Division II women's basketball national tournament, Dickinson State nearly looked poised to take the upset.

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Dickinson State senior center Janniqua Thomas, left, dribbles around Indiana Wesleyan defenders Thursday during their NAIA Division II national tournament game in Sioux City, Iowa. (Submitted photo by Stormie Sickler)

SIOUX CITY, Iowa - Once taking the last at-large bid into the NAIA Division II women’s basketball national tournament, Dickinson State nearly looked poised to take the upset.

But Indiana Wesleyan had other plans.

No. 14-ranked and No. 4-seeded Indiana Wesleyan outscored the No. 23-ranked and No. 5-seeded Blue Hawks 21-13 in the final quarter to come out with a 68-58 victory at the Tyson Events Center in the national tournament opening round of 32.

However, the Blue Hawks nearly pulled off the upset. In fact, DSU (21-8) took a 33-25 lead at halftime behind North Star Athletic Association newcomer of the year Janniqua Thomas’ 19 points. She ended the game with 24 points on 10 of 17 shooting along with eight rebounds and three assists.

“We talked (at halftime) about stopping the big girl (Thomas) and to keep attacking,’’ Indiana Wesleyan senior guard Jessica Brown told the Sioux City Journal. “We started doubling up on the post, and our big girls were able to make big stops.’’

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DSU commanded the game as late as early in the third quarter with a 40-25 lead.

However, all-Crossroads League Brown scored 19 of her team-high 21 points in the second half. She ended the game going 8 of 11 and 5 for 8 from the free-throw line.

“I think this team, for whatever reason, has been incredibly inconsistent within games and from one game to the next,’’ Wildcats head coach Steve Brooks told the Sioux City Journal. “It’s been a journey. But one thing I can say about ’em is they don’t quit.”

For the game, DSU shot 13 of 30 (43 percent) in the first half, but then went 11 of 30 (37 percent) in the next half, allowing the comeback.

Indiana Wesleyan shot 10 of 29 (35 percent) in the first half, then 15 of 26 (58 percent) in the final two quarters.

DSU was 55 percent from the foul line while the Wildcats were 78 percent.

“The second half, we just couldn’t defend like we had the first half, and we got really still on offense,’’ Thomas told the Sioux City Journal.

All-NSAA junior center Megan Klein went just 2 for 8 from the field for four points and tied Thomas for a team-high eight rebounds. DSU junior guard Leslie Beaudoin went 4 for 8 from the field for nine points off the bench, while all-NSAA junior guard Lorna Shepherd was 3 of 8 for eight points.

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No other DSU player scored more than five.

Kelsey Key fueled the Wildcats with 19 points on 7 of 16 shooting, while Carlee Cottrell went 2 for 9 and 2 of 7 from 3-point range for 10 points.

Key and Brown both scored 12 points in the third quarter, helping Indiana Wesleyan outscore DSU 22-8 in the frame.

“We not only broke down defensively, we didn’t have that balance we normally have,’’ DSU head coach Mark Graupe told the Sioux City Journal. “You could tell (Indiana Wesleyan has) been here. They’re a storied program.’’

While Indiana Wesleyan advances to take on No. 1-seeded Olivet Nazarene in the Sweet 16, DSU will end its historic season after making the playoffs for the first time since 2009.

Related Topics: BLUE HAWKS
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