For the first time in five seasons, the North Coast Athletic Conference Women's Basketball Tournament Champion will be decided in Granville, Ohio. With a spot in the tournament final on the line, the top-seeded Big Red will try to extend their current winning streak to 17 games when they take on the fourth-seeded Allegheny Gators on Friday at 8 p.m.
Denison, who is ranked 23rd in the most recent D3Hoops.com and USA Today Coaches polls, secured the right to host the NCAC 'Final Four' on Tuesday night with a 66-47 victory over eighth-seeded Ohio Wesleyan at Livingston Gym. Meanwhile, 217 miles northeast of Granville, Allegheny held on for a 58-50 victory over fifth-seeded Oberlin. The Gators came close to derailing the, at the time, 14-game Big Red winning streak in the regular season finale on Feb. 20 in Meadville, Pa. However, a missed 3-pointer at the buzzer allowed DU to continue its streak. Earlier in the year, Denison knocked off Allegheny in Granville 76-62.
Friday's semifinal clash will mark the 12th NCAC Tournament meeting between the two squads and will be the third-straight year they've faced off in the postseason. Denison boasts a 10-1 record against Allegheny in the postseason, which includes an unblemished 7-0 mark at Livingston Gymnasium. The Big Red is currently riding a seven-game winning streak against the Gators dating back to the 2013-14 season. Denison Head Coach Sara Lee has won 19 of the 23 meetings with Allegheny Head Coach Kate Costanzo.
In Tuesday night's win over OWU, junior Jordan Holmes posted her 22nd double-double of the season after scoring 23 points and grabbing 20 rebounds. Holmes, the reigning and five-time NCAC Player of the Week this season, also blocked six shots. In her last two NCAC Quarterfinal games, the junior is a perfect 21-for-21 at that foul line after going 9-for-9 against the Bishops this year. Senior Taylor Lindquist also added 11 points, three assists, three steals and three blocks.
Holmes currently ranks in the top-2 in eight national categories. She leads the country in defensive rebounds per game (13) and co-leads in double-doubles. She is also second in blocks per game (6.08), field-goal percentage (.689) total rebounds per game (17.5) and triple-doubles (2). As a team, the Big Red ranks second nationally in blocks per game (7.6) and fourth in both field goal (.301) and 3-point field goal percentage (.227) defense.
Tip-off from Livingston Gym between Denison and Allegheny is scheduled for Friday at 8 p.m. Prior to that game, second-seeded DePauw will take on third-seeded Kenyon in the first semifinal matchup at 6 p.m. The two semifinal winners will return to Livingston Gymnasium on Saturday to determine the 2016 NCAC Tournament Champion. The championship game is set to tip-off at 4 p.m.
Ticket prices for Friday and Saturday's games will be $10 for adults and $5 for children, students without a valid NCAC ID and anyone with an NCAC guest pass. Any NCAC student with a valid NCAC Institution ID will be admitted free of charge. In addition, the first 50 Denison faculty and staff members on Friday and Saturday with a valid Denison ID will also be admitted free. For those who cannot attend, a live video broadcast of all three games will be provided by the Denison Sports Network.