DELAWARE, Ohio -- Denison's post players accounted for 65 percent of the team's scoring and grabbed 39 of the squad's 57 rebounds as the sixth-seeded Big Red knocked off third-seeded Ohio Wesleyan, 61-46, in the opening round of the 2017 North Coast Athletic Conference Tournament on Tuesday night at Branch Rickey Arena.
Nearly three weeks removed from a seven-point loss to the Bishops in Delaware, Denison stormed out of the gates scoring 11 of the first 14 points before eventually outscoring the home team 16-6 in the opening 10 minutes of play. The Big Red held OWU to a 2-for-16 performance in the first period which included three blocks by senior Jordan Holmes.
Megan Kuether opened the second quarter scoring with a pair of free throws before a 10-3 surge by DU built up a 26-11 lead with 6:45 left in the half. Four different players scored during the run led by Gabrielle Nottage who began and finished the burst with a jumper. Ohio Wesleyan trimmed the deficit back to nine over the course for three and a half minute, but buckets by Holmes and sophomore Valesha Province sent Denison into the locker room with a 36-23 lead.
In front 40-25 midway through the third, the Big Red engineered an 8-2 surge that gave the visitors their first 20-point lead of the game. Holmes and fellow senior Emily Krumpe provided all the scoring during the run. Denison led by as many as 23 in the final period thanks to a three-pointer by freshman Addie Buzas. OWU got as close as 14 with 24 seconds to play before a Nottage free throw set the final score.
The DU offense shot 37 percent (27-for-74) from the floor, while the defense held the Bishops to a 26-percent (15-for-58) conversion rate. Denison outscored Ohio Wesleyan 30-14 in the paint while also holding a 57-33 advantage on the glass. The Big Red reserves also provided 28 points compared to 11 tallies from the OWU bench.
Holmes logged her 14th double-double of the season after leading the team with 16 points and 20 rebounds. She also recorded five blocks. With her 20-rebound performance, Holmes moved into sole possession of third place on the NCAA career blocks list, breaking the tie with Patricia Hoskins of Division I Mississippi Valley (1985-89). The DU senior currently has 1,682 career rebounds.
Also scoring in double figures for Denison was Krumpe who finished with 12 points and seven boards. Nottage and freshman Lauren Hofer added nine points each, while Hofer also pulled down nine rebounds. Province handed out four assists, while freshman Alison Schafer recorded two steals. The quartet of Holmes, Krumpe, Hofer and Buzas combined for 40 of the team's 61 points.
Kuether had a game-high 18 points, while Taylor Dickson added 10 points to pace the OWU offense. Both players grabbed five boards each. Kayla Richards had three assists, while Nicole Popovich posted two steals.
With the win, the Big Red improves to 13-13 while the Bishops close out the season with a 12-14 record. Denison returns to action this Friday when they travel to Greencastle, Ind. for the semifinals of the 2017 NCAC Tournament. DU will face off against second-seeded Kenyon in the semifinal round with tip-off scheduled for 7 p.m.