SIOUX CITY, Iowa – (Box Score) With the seemingly home-court advantage behind them, the No. 2 Dakota Wesleyan (S.D.) Tigers earned their 10th national championship win after blitzing No. 7 Milligan (Tenn.) in the first round. The Tigers picked up a 66-54 victory to advance to the second round and improve their overall record to 27-6 on the year.
With the win, Dakota Wesleyan will advance to their second-straight second-round and will take on the winner of the No. 3 Eastern Oregon (28-4) and No. 6 Dickinson State (N.D.). On the other side, Milligan, the Appalachian Athletic Conference regular-season champion, drops to 23-10 to end their 2017 campaign.
The first quarter saw a back and forth battle between the two qualifiers, but it was the Tigers who took advantage of their support and worked to get ahead for good. After the close opening quarter when Milligan, at one point, held a six-point lead, Dakota Wesleyan opened up the game and did not let up as it jumped out to its largest lead in the contest at the 8:12 mark in the third quarter, getting ahead by 25. As the end started to creep up, the Buffaloes made a positive stride and cut into the deficit to only be down by 11. In the end, though, it was all Dakota Wesleyan as it earned an 11-point victory to advance.
Ashley Bray, who has been the leader for the Tigers all season, led all scorers with 18 points. The junior forward also earned a Tiger-high for the game in rebounds as she pulled down nine. Rylie Osthus (14 points) and Amber Bray (12 points) also led the Dakota Wesleyan charge as they each netted double-digits. The Tigers earned 34 points in the paint and leaned on their bench to cash in on 12 additional points in the win.
For the Buffaloes, the team remained balanced in the game, with eight different players scoring. Mackenzie Raizor's 10 points was a Milligan team-high. Sarah Robinson was the defender of the game for the Buffaloes behind her 10 rebounds. As a team, Milligan ended their season shooting .271 from the field and on eight 3-pointers.
With the victory, Dakota Wesleyan is now 10-3 in their trips to the national championship. For Milligan, making their 7th appearance, the Buffaloes are now 2-7 all-time in Sioux City.