Junior post Jordan Holmes set the North Coast Athletic Conference and Denison school records for career blocks in the Big Red's 63-58 overtime victory over North Park University on Saturday in the opening round of the North Park University Thanksgiving Tournament.
In 2007, former Denison standout Kristen Sheffield completed her four-year career with both the conference and school records for blocks after totaling 336 career rejections in 115 games. Entering her 60th collegiate game on Saturday, Holmes needed only three blocks to surpass the total set nine seasons ago. Just 49 seconds into the second quarter, the Pittsburgh, Pa. native tied Sheffield's record when she stuffed a layup attempt by Liz Rehberger. Eight minutes and 32 seconds after matching the NCAC mark, Holmes blocked a Rachel Torres layup to become the new all-time leader for both the conference and the Denison women's basketball program.
The Big Red maintained a lead for the entire third quarter, including an eight-point advantage following a free throw from Holmes with 2:06 on the clock. North Park whittled the lead down to four, but a theft and jumper by Gaby Mehringer gave DU a 41-35 lead through three periods. Denison took its largest lead of the game at 10 points with six minutes remaining in the fourth. However, a 16-6 run that was capped off Gabriella Sandoval three with seven seconds left in regulation set up DU's first overtime game of the year.
The Vikings took their first lead since the start of the second quarter on a Nicole Kruckman layup inside the first minute of the OT session. Junior Emily Krumpe answered on the next possession with a jumper off an assist from Lucy Bancone. North Park retook a 56-55 advantage when Amani Davis split a pair at the free throw line. Denison regained the lead when Valesha Province scored down low after a Davis turnover. On the Big Red's next trip down the floor, Holmes found Krumpe for a jumper to make it a three-point contest.
Sandoval ended an over two minute scoring drought by North Park with a fastbreak layup following a Torres steal. However, Denison was able to secure the win thanks to a 4-for-4 performance at the line by Province and an 0-for-4 outing from the field by the Vikings over the final 31 seconds of play.
The Big Red trailed 10-9 after the first 10 minutes of the game, but quickly regained the lead when Bancone knocked down a jumper in the opening minutes of the second quarter. Sophomore Akilah Fletcher added to DU's lead on their next possession. Torres shrunk the deficit to one with a bucket, but a Taylor Lindquist triple and a Mehringer basket gave the Big Red their largest lead of the period at 18-12. The Vikings were able to cut the margin to one with 2:37 left in the half before a 6-2 Denison run set the halftime score at 26-21.
The Big Red held a 28-22 scoring edge in the paint, while the Denison bench outscored the North Park reserves, 35-19. The Vikings outrebounded DU 55-51.
Holmes finished the game with 20 rebounds and eight blocks, giving her 342 career rejections. Krumpe and Province co-led the Big Red offense with 14 points each. Krumpe also grabbed eight rebounds, while Province had five boards. Fletcher came off the bench to score 12 points and grab six boards, while Bancone dished out four assists.
Rehberger had a game-high 15 points to go with seven rebounds, while Sandoval chipped in 11 tallies. Davis finished with 10 points, three assists and three steals, while Soly Roman grabbed a team-high 15 boards.
With the win, Denison improves to 4-2, while North Park (3-1) suffered its first loss of the season. The Big Red will close out the NPU Thanksgiving Invitational against Elmhurst on Sunday at 1 p.m. EST.