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Big Red sweeps season series with Tigers

Johnny Vernasco scored 6 points and grabbed 6 boards in Denison's 21-point win over DePauw.
Johnny Vernasco scored 6 points and grabbed 6 boards in Denison's 21-point win over DePauw.

Behind a 20-2 first-half run, the Denison men's basketball team swept the season series with DePauw following an 81-60 victory at Livingston Gymnasium in Granville.

The game was close early on before a 7-0 surge by the Big Red gave them their first double-digit lead of the contest at 18-8. Freshman Matt Doyle capped off the run with a 3-pointer off a pass from Matthew Bauer.

Still leading by 10 with 7:38 to play in the first half, Denison blew the game wide open with a 20-2 run spanning six minutes that gave the home team their largest lead of the period at 44-16. Senior Darius White bookended the run with a pair of triples that moved him into a tie for the school record with 209 career 3-pointers. Junior Jett Speelman added five points, while Max Siwik provided one of the team's four treys during the stretch. Johnny Vernasco, Andrew Castagnetti and Garrett Collier also added buckets.

The Tigers cut the deficit to 25 late in the half, but a layup by Collier in the closing seconds gave the Big Red a 46-19 lead at the break. Speelman led all scorers at the intermission with 17 points, while Devon Pitts had five boards. DU shot 50 percent (17-for-34) from the field in the opening frame, while DePauw converted just 33.3 (8-for-24) percent from the floor. Denison also committed just two turnovers while forcing the Tigers into eight giveaways.

The Big Red carried the momentum into the second half, opening the period with a 15-7 burst that resulted in Denison's largest lead of the game at 61-26. The Tigers tried to battle back, but couldn't overcome the over 30-point deficit. DePauw got as close as 19 with under two minutes to play before the Big Red walked off the court with a 21-point win.

Denison never trailed in the game, leading for almost 38 of the 40 minutes. The Big Red outscored the Tigers in the paint, 36-28, and turned 17 offensive rebounds into 15 points. Denison posted their highest rebounding margin of the season after grabbing 44 rebounds to DePauw's 24.

Speelman finished with a game-high 24 points after going 9-for-18 from the field and 5-for-5 at the foul line. Castagnetti added 10 points following a 4-for-5 outing which included a 2-for-3 performance from 3-point range. Collier chipped in eight points and five assists, while Pitts and Vernasco had seven and six rebounds, respectively.

Luke Lattner had one-third of DePauw's scoring with 20 points to go along with two assists and two steals. Adam Botts, Bradley Fey and James Clarke added six points apiece, while Mark Johnson, David Vogel and Andrew Kus pulled down three rebounds each.

Denison improves to 10-8 on the season and 5-6 in the NCAC, while the Tigers fall to 6-12 and 2-9 in league play. The Big Red returns to action on Saturday when they travel to Springfield, Ohio to take on Wittenberg at 7:30 p.m.

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