Dakota State women's basketball reaches NAIA national semifinals for first time
Mar. 16—SIOUX CITY, Iowa. — For the first time in school and conference history, the Dakota State University women's basketball team is among the last four teams standing at the NAIA women's basketball tournament.
The Trojans (29-6) won 71-70 over top-seeded Indiana Wesleyan on Wednesday night to advance to Friday's national semifinals at the Tyson Events Center. They will play Clarke (Iowa) at 8 p.m. Friday in the semifinal round of the 64-team event.
Ranked 24th to end the regular season, it was DSU's 20th win in the last 21 games and brings their record to 29-6 on the season. It was the Trojans' third consecutive national tournament victory over a higher-seeded team, defeating No. 3 Eastern Oregon, No. 2 Carroll (Mont.) and No. 1 Indiana Wesleyan. They are the first team from the North Star Athletic Association to advance to the final four of an NAIA women's basketball tournament.
The Trojans have three players with area ties, all starters. Corsica's Courtney Menning played all 40 minutes on Wednesday at guard, while Alexandria's Morgan Huber had 11 points and Elsie Aslesen, whose hometown is Howard, scored 12 points and pulled down nine rebounds.
Caitlyn Dyer made the eventual game-winning 3-pointer with 18 seconds remaining to clinch the victory for the Trojans, who held on late for the win. Indiana Wesleyan, ranked No. 5 in the final national poll, ended its season with an overall record of 31-4.
Clarke, No. 7 in the final NAIA national poll, defeated No. 1 seed Campbellsville (Ky.) 76-51 in the Duer Quadrant's final earlier Wednesday as the No. 2 seed.
The other national semifinal involves 1-seeds in their brackets, with Central Methodist (Mo.) (35-0) and defending national champions Thomas More (Ky.) (30-3). Those teams will play at 6 p.m. Friday, with the semifinal winners meeting for the championship on Saturday, March 18.