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Tiger basketball notebook: Contributors have been many for Dakota Wesleyan women so far

MITCHELL — For the Dakota Wesleyan University women’s basketball team, the scoring contributions have come through numerous forms this season.

Six different Tigers have led the team in scoring in games on the way to a 12-5 record. Three players — Jada Campbell, Matti Reiner and Isabel Ihnen — average at least 10 points per game. Those three, plus Morgan Edelman, Rylee Rosenquist and Lacey Sprakel each have led the team in scoring in a game this season. Each of them have had at least 20 points in a game, while Edelman’s season-high is 17.

“Night in and night out, we’ve had different leading scorers all year. It’s a good problem to have,” DWU coach Jason Christensen said. “We usually play 10 kids in the first half and see who is clicking and who is not, and then adjust for the second half and that has been working for us.”

Campbell, Reiner and Sprakel each play forward positions, while Aspen Hansen has spent time in the role during stages this season too. The 6-foot-4 Alexandria native, Campbell is the team’s leading scorer with 15.3 points per game, Reiner, a Tripp product, is second at 11.9 points per game and Sprakel, a sophomore from Crofton, Nebraska, is usually among the first players off the bench and is averaging 7.9 points per game. Christensen said the players play key roles in making sure DWU’s offense runs effectively from inside-out.

“When Matti and Lacey and Jada are going, everything works and everything is smoother for us,” Christensen said. “I don’t want to put a lot of pressure on them but they really help things up for the rest of the offense.”

In Sunday’s win over Mount Marty, for example, opportunities opened up for DWU after the Tigers worked the ball inside to Campbell, who draws plenty of attention, and opened up opportunities for passes and open shots. That coincided with a 20-0 run in the 73-41 victory.

The Tigers are also ranked No. 5 nationally in assists per game, averaging 18 assists per contest as a team. DWU makes about 27 shots per game, meaning two-thirds of the Tigers’ made shots are coming off a teammate’s pass.

“Anytime we can get our inside game going, we’re in good shape,” Christensen said. “You look at our losses this year, it’s been when we haven’t been able to work inside. We know we need that to be successful. I compare it to football, where if you don’t have a run game, it’s hard to be successful and it’s the same thing for us, we’re going to struggle if we can’t get anything going inside.”

Dakota Wesleyan’s Isabel Ihnen dribbles the ball up the court in a women’s basketball game against Briar Cliff on Thursday, Jan. 5, 2023, at the Corn Palace.

Ihnen, who played high school basketball at Lennox, has gained a lot of confidence shooting the ball, Christensen said. Her 3-point shooting has risen to nearly 40% on the season from 26.7% a year ago, and Ihnen has started all 17 games this season, averaging 10.9 points per game.

“If you’re going to be a good shooter, you’re going to have confidence and she has developed that through her workouts and the offseason and I think you’re seeing a lot of that on the court,” Christensen said.

Convincing wins

When the Tigers have won this season, they’ve won big.

In 12 victories this season, DWU has won games by an average of 26.6 points, including two games by 60 points and eight games by 20 points or more.

Much of that can be credited to the defensive end of the court, as the Tigers are one of the top defensive teams in the country, ranking 11th in the country in scoring defense, allowing 54.5 points per game. The Tigers rank No. 16 in the country in defensive efficiency, allowing 0.779 points per possession.

“Defensively, we’re one of the better teams in the country and that’s where we start, it’s with the defense,” Christensen said. “I know we’re in the top-20 defensively in the country and I think we might have had times where we’ve been bottom-20 offensively. Defense, that’s why we’re in games. There’s things we can improve on but defensively, I like where we’re at. And our rebounding has been pretty good, too, and that’s a good place to start.”

Source : Mitchell Republic