The Wildcats kicked off the 2016-17 season on Thursday night, hosting #3 Dakota Wesleyan University at the Wildcat Center.
The first quarter got underway with the teams trading early buckets. McCorra Ford (Gillette, Wyo.) had early points for Johnson & Wales and a jumper by Armanee Cross (Chicago, Ill.) gave JWU the 11-10 lead. The Tigers came back to take the 23-15 lead into the break.
In the second quarter, Dakota Wesleyan surged ahead to extend their lead. Cara McNiff (Aurora, Colo.) had a three pointer with 1:47 to cut into the DWU lead. By the end of the half, the Tigers held the 48-21 lead.
In the third, the two sides traded baskets to open the period. The 'Cats offense stalled midway through the quarter as the Tigers built up their lead. After three quarters of play, DWU held the 77-30 advantage. In the fourth, Johnson & Wales saw their offense pick up as Ford started to find some momentum. As the Tigers focused their defense on Ford, the 'Cats were able to swing the ball out and pick up points from the wings.
The Tigers held off the Wildcats late push and took the 100-49 win over Johnson & Wales to take the season opener for both programs.
Ford led all players with 20 points and McNiff added 14. Ford also had a team high six rebounds. The 'Cats were 12 of 16 from the free throw line and shot .320. Ashley Bray had 14 points for the Tigers and Sarah Carr had nine rebounds.
The Wildcats will take on Doane University on Friday at 5pm in the Wildcat Center.