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Big Red tops OWU; advances to NCAC semifinals

Taylor Lindquist

Jordan Holmes' third 20-20 performance of the season helped the top-seeded Big Red post a 66-47 victory over eighth-seeded Ohio Wesleyan in the quarterfinals of the 2016 North Coast Athletic Conference Tournament on Tuesday in Granville. With the win, the Big Red secured the right to host the final two rounds of the NCAC Tournament this Friday (Feb. 26) and Saturday (Feb. 27).

DU led wire-to-wire against the Battling Bishops. After building up a 13-point lead midway through the second quarter, Denison entered the locker room with a 34-23 advantage. Ohio Wesleyan quickly made it a one-score game in the second half, knocking down 3-pointers on three consecutive possessions to shrink the deficit to two just 2:37 into the third.

Denison was able to flip the script on the Bishops over the next four minutes with a 9-0 run of their own to rebuild the double-digit lead. Four-straight points from Jordan Holmes, a triple by Erica Holmes and a short-range jumper from Akilah Fletcher gave DU back its 11-point advantage. The Big Red opened the final period with eight-straight points to take a 17-point lead. Ohio Wesleyan cut the margin to 11 before another 9-0 burst by the Big Red offense made it a 20-point affair, securing the win with less than two minutes to play.

The Big Red converted 47 percent (23-for-49) from the floor and equaled the school record for free-throw percentage in a game, going a perfect 16-for-16 at the charity stripe. DU won the battle on the boards (45-28) and outscored the Bishops in the paint 32-10. Denison also assisted on 18 of their 23 made buckets.

Holmes led all scorers with 23 points on 7-of-10 from the field and a perfect 9-for-9 at the foul line. The 6-foot-1 junior also grabbed 20 rebounds and blocked six shots. Defensive stalwart Taylor Lindquist played a large role in Megan Kuether's 22-percent conversion rate from the field (4-for-18). Lindquist finished with 11 points, three assists, three steals and three blocks in 26 minutes of action. Fletcher had nine points and four boards in 23 minutes off the bench while Valesha Province dished out four assists.

Hannah Fedorka led Ohio Wesleyan (6-20) with 15 points and three steals while Kuether chipped in 13 points. Kelly Still had a team-best six rebounds while Lisa Zeller handed out three assists.

As the top-seed, Denison (23-3) will take on fourth-seeded Allegheny, who defeated fifth-seeded Oberlin, 58-50, in the semifinals on Friday night at 8 p.m. The first semifinal game will start at 6 p.m. and will feature second-seeded DePauw, 56-46 winners over No. 7 Wittenberg, against third-seeded Kenyon, who knocked off sixth-seeded Hiram 65-52.

This is Denison's 13th NCAC Tournament semifinal appearance in the last 14 years and the first time since 2011 they will host the NCAC's 'Final Four'.

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