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Fletcher, Holmes help Big Red knock off North Central

Akilah Fletcher

Sophomore Akilah Fletcher scored a career-high 21 points and junior Jordan Holmes recorded her fifth-career triple-double in the Big Red's 97-81 victory over North Central College on Monday at the Smokey Ballenger Classic hosted by Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio. DU's 97 points ranks as the fifth-highest single-game performance in program history. It's also the most points scored by a Denison team since they had 102 in a victory over Hiram (12/11/10).

Despite playing in a season-low 33 minutes due in large part to foul trouble midway through the third quarter, Holmes posted the fifth triple-double of her collegiate career which set a new Division III record. The Pittsburgh, Pa. native needed just one half to break a three-way tie for the national career record, posting 13 points, 17 rebounds and 10 blocks in 19 first-half minutes. Holmes' 14 blocks for the game broke her own individual single-game school record and tied for the fourth-most blocks in a game in Division III history. Additionally, the team's 16 rejections surpassed the school mark set last season against Hiram (Feb. 8).

The Big Red held a double-digit lead after the opening 10 minutes of play before going into the intermission with a 52-34 advantage. Holmes' triple-double clinching block came at the end of the second quarter when she blocked a layup attempt by Michaela Reedy.

The Cardinals erased that 18-point halftime deficit with a 30-8 run to open the third quarter, giving North Central a 64-60 lead with just over three minutes to play in the period. Denison regained the lead in the closing stages of the stanza by scoring 11 of the final 15 points to retake a 71-68 lead. Four different players scored for DU during that stretch, with senior Taylor Lindquist breaking the 68-68 tie after completing the old-fashioned three-point play with 29 seconds on the clock.

After being outscored 34-19 in the third, Denison held onto their lead for the entire fourth quarter as they outscored the Cardinals 26-13. North Central pulled to within five with four minutes to play, but a 14-3 offensive burst that was capped off by a 6-for-7 outing at the foul line locked up the Big Red win.

Fletcher went 10-for-17 from the field in 22 minutes of action and grabbed six rebounds. Holmes had 19 points on 9-of-11 from the floor to go along with 21 rebounds, which marked her fifth game with 20 or more rebounds. Senior Kellie Arter chipped in 12 points, while Gaby Mehringer and Gabrielle Nottage, who appeared in her first game of the season after suffering an injury this summer, both added 11 points. Mehringer was 4-for-7 from the field, while Nottage connected on three of her seven attempts, including two 3-pointers. Both players also went 3-for-4 at the charity stripe. Nottage and freshman Lucy Bancone led the Big Red with four assists each, while Mehringer had five steals.

Therese Pettersson scored 20 points on 6-of-8 from the field, including a 4-for-4 performance from 3-point range, to lead the Cardinals. Pettersson also went 4-for-6 at the line. Reedy also came off the bench to score 13 points, while starters Mayson Whipple and Jamie Cuny had 11 apiece. Cuny also led North Central with eight rebounds and five blocks, while Whipple dished out five assists.

Denison improves to 8-3 with the victory, while the loss drops North Central to 5-5. The Big Red will close out play at the Smokey Ballenger Classic on Tuesday (Dec. 29) when they play host Otterbein at 5 p.m.

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