February 23, 2012

Rivalry renewed in NCAC Semifinals

For the second-straight season, North Coast Athletic Conference rivals Denison and Kenyon will battle in the semifinals of the NCAC Tournament.  The second-seeded Big Red will be making its 10th-consecutive semifinal appearance on Friday in Greencastle, Ind.

In last year's clash, top-seeded Denison edged out fourth-seeded Kenyon 80-72 at Livingston Gymnasium in Granville.  The Big Red went on to win its sixth tournament title in seven years and reached the NCAA Tournament for the second-consecutive season.

DU swept the season series and has rattled off 10-straight victories over Kenyon dating back to 2008.  The Ladies last win over the Big Red was a 69-48 decision in Gambier on Feb. 13, 2008.  In eight previous tournament meetings, Denison holds a 6-2 edge, including five-consecutive tournament wins over Kenyon.  In addition, DU has also won all four semifinal meetings with the Ladies.

Denison (19-7) is led by first-team All-NCAC point guard Serafina Nuzzo.  This season, Nuzzo is averaging 12.4 points per game and ranks second in the conference in steals (2.3/game), fourth in 3-point field goals made (39) and eighth in assists (3.0/game).  Sophomore post Jane Windler is averaging 10.8 points and a team-best 6.6 rebounds per contest.  During Denison's current seven-game winning streak, Windler is averaging 15.1 points and 7.4 rebounds per contest and is converting a 56 percent clip (38-for-68) from the floor.

The Ladies (19-7) are led by the trio of sophomore guard Maureen Hirt, junior post Kayla Ernst and senior forward Morgan Korinek.  Hirt leads the NCAC in scoring (18.5 ppg), free throw percentage (.881), and 3-point field goals made (3.2/game).  Ernst's 14.3 scoring average ranks fifth in the league, while her .835 free throw percentage ranks fourth.  Korinek is second in the conference in field goal percentage (.538), third in steals (2.1/game), fifth in rebounds (7.7) and eighth in scoring (12.8).

Both Denison and Kenyon finished the regular season with 11-5 records in the NCAC.  The Big Red secured the second seed by way of their season sweep of the Ladies.  DU advanced to the semifinals of the NCAC Tournament following a 58-43 win over Ohio Wesleyan on Tuesday.  The Ladies defeated Hiram 69-52 in Gambier on Tuesday evening to punch their ticket to the NCAC Final Four.

The two conference rivals will tip-off at 6 p.m. from Neal Fieldhouse in Greencastle, Ind.  The second semifinal scheduled for an 8 p.m. start will pit fifth-seeded Wittenberg against top-seeded DePauw.  The two semifinal winners will return on Saturday to battle for the NCAC Tournament crown and an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.  Saturday's championship game will tip-off at 7 p.m.

Ticket prices for Friday and Saturday's games will be $10 for adults and $5 for children, students without a valid ID and anyone with an NCAC guest pass.  Any NCAC student with a valid ID will be admitted free of charge.  DePauw will provide live video broadcasts and live statistics for Friday and Saturday's games.