VALLEY CITY, N.D. (VCSUVikings.com) – The Valley City State women’s basketball team was unable to overcome a second-quarter onslaught by the defending national champions on Wednesday night.
No. 5-ranked Dakota Wesleyan University shot 64 percent in the first half Wednesday and the Tigers built a 51-31 halftime lead en route to an 80-65 victory over the Vikings. The Tigers made four second-quarter 3’s and finished the half with a 16-3 run – outscoring the Vikings 29-12 in the second quarter.
Valley City State outscored the Tigers in the second half, and cut the deficit to 72-61 midway through the fourth quarter but could get no closer down the stretch.
Valley City State drops to 13-12 overall, while Dakota Wesleyan – which won the NAIA Division II National Championship last season – improves to 25-4 on the season.
Wednesday was VCSU’s final non-conference game of the year. The Vikings will close out the regular season on Saturday when they host Mayville State and play for a share of the North Star Athletic Association conference championship. VCSU, Mayville State and Bellevue are all 10-3 in conference play and tied for first place entering the final game of the NSAA conference schedule. The winner of Saturday’s game between the Vikings and Comets wins at least a share of the conference championship. For the Vikings, it would be their first regular season championship since the 1991-92 season. If VCSU wins on Saturday they would also earn the top seed for the conference tournament.
Dierra Diegel led the Vikings on Wednesday with 13 points and eight rebounds. Gabby Martinmade three 3’s as she finished with 13 points and added four rebounds and three assists. Alli Vandal knocked down a pair of 3’s and added 10 points for the Vikings. Off the bench, Kaitlin Connor scored eight and Alexis Bentzchipped in seven points.
Valley City State shot 46 percent overall (23-50), 44 percent on 3’s (10-23) and 82 percent at the line (9-11). Dakota Wesleyan finished the game at 55 percent from the field (29-53), 42 percent on 3’s (10-24) and a perfect 12-for-12 on free throws. VCSU had 17 assists and 20 turnovers, while Dakota Wesleyan finished with 15 assists to just 13 turnovers.
Rylie Osthus scored a game-high 24 points – including 17 in the first half – and also picked up 10 steals to lead Dakota Wesleyan. Kynedi Cheeseman added 18 points, and Makaela Karst hit four 3-pointers to finish with 14 points.
Valley City State used an 8-0 run in the first quarter to take its biggest lead of the game. Dierra Diegel and Gabby Martin made back-to-back 3-pointers, and then Hannah Schlechtcapped the run with a basket inside – putting the Vikings up 15-9 with 4:46 left in the first quarter. Dakota Wesleyan answered with a 9-0 run over the next two minutes to retake the lead at 18-15. The back-and-forth first quarter featured four ties and four lead changes, after which the Tigers held a 22-19 lead.
Dakota Wesleyan started the second quarter with a 10-3 run, opening up a 32-22 lead with six minutes to play. VCSU’s Dierra Deigel stopped the run with a 3-point play inside, cutting the deficit to 32-25. The Tigers would not let up though and showed why they are one of the top teams in the country, pulling away to a 51-31 halftime lead.
The Vikings opened the second half with a 10-3 run over the first four minutes, cutting the deficit to 54-41. VCSU was within 13 points several times in the third quarter before entering the fourth down 68-50. The Vikings fell behind 72-53 early in the final period, but put together eight straight points – capped by a Gabby Martin 3-pointer – to get within 11 points at 72-61, which was the closest the Vikings would be in the second half.
Up next: Valley City State closes the regular season on Saturday by hosting Mayville State University at 3 p.m. The winner of that game earns at least a share of the North Star Athletic Association regular season conference championship.
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