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Big Red grabs share of NCAC lead with win at DePauw

Kelly Arter

The Denison women's basketball team moved into a tie for first place in the North Coast Athletic Conference following a 63-54 victory over DePauw University on Wednesday evening in Greencastle, Ind.

The win marked the Big Red's first victory over the Tigers since they joined the NCAC for the 2011-12 season. Additionally, the nine-point victory snapped DePauw's 96-game regular season home conference game winning streak.

Riding a three-game winning streak into Greencastle, Denison knew they needed a strong defensive effort to have a shot at handing DePauw its first conference loss of the season. Neither team built more than a one-possession lead in the opening 10 minutes. With 29 seconds left in the quarter, junior Gabrielle Nottage knocked down a jumper to give the Big Red a 16-15 lead through one.

The second period saw four early lead changes, but a layup at 7:59 by Jordan Holmes, the reigning United States Basketball Writers Association National Player of the Week, gave Denison an advantage they wouldn't relinquish for the rest of the half. A 3-pointer by freshman Valesha Province and a bucket from Gaby Mehringer extended DU's lead to six, their largest of the half. A late bucket by Abby Keller pulled the Tigers to within four (27-23) at the half.

The Big Red held onto the lead for the first 6+ minutes of the third quarter before an Angela Hacker jumper gave the home team a one-point edge. The two squad ping-ponged the lead back-and-forth over the final three and a half minutes. Trailing by three with 64 seconds remaining, Emily Budde and Maya Howard scored on back-to-back possessions to give DePauw a 48-47 lead through 30 minutes of play.

DePauw took its largest lead of the game when Howard opened the fourth with a layup. The Big Red answered the Howard score with a 9-2 run over 6:44 to regain a four-point edge. Holmes led the charge with four points, while senior Taylor Lindquist chipped in three tallies and Nottage had a two. A pair of free throws by Howard with 1:16 to play cut the deficit to 56-54, but a 7-0 run to end the game, which included a 5-for-6 performance at the foul line, secured the Denison victory.

The Big Red connected on 44 percent (20-for-45) from the field, including 4-of-6 from beyond the arc. DU also knocked down 19-of-23 (83 percent) at the charity stripe. On the flip side, the Denison defense held the Tigers to a 33-percent conversion rate (22-for-66) and a 1-for-9 clip (11 percent) from 3-point range. The Big Red grabbed 38 rebounds, which included 29 defensive caroms, while DePauw came away with 28 boards. Denison also received 28 points from their reserves, while the Tigers had just 10 tallies from their bench.

Holmes recorded her 11th double-double of the season after posting a team-high 13 points and a game-best 14 rebounds. With her 14 boards, the 6-foot-1 junior moved into fourth on the NCAC's career rebounds list with 1,031. Nottage provided 12 points in 24 minutes off the bench, while senior Kellie Arter, Lindquist and sophomore Akilah Fletcher each had eight tallies.

Howard led all scorers with 19 points to go along with three steals, while Budde added 15 points and two takeaways. Keller led the Tigers with eight rebounds in 20 minutes before fouling out of the game.

Denison, winners of nine of their last 10, moves to 11-3 on the year, while DePauw falls to 10-4. Both teams are now 4-1 in NCAC play. The Big Red returns to action next Wednesday (Jan. 13) when they host Kenyon at 6 p.m.

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