Fast start launches Big Red past Bishops

Valesha Province  |  Photo by Jace Delgado
Valesha Province | Photo by Jace Delgado

GRANVILLE, Ohio – Thanks to a 23-4 scoring advantage in the first quarter, the Big Red totaled three players in double figures en route to a 65-33 home win over Ohio Wesleyan University on Wednesday night at Livingston Gymnasium.

While holding the Battling Bishops to 1-of-10 shooting and forcing four turnovers in the opening frame, sophomore Lauren Hofer scored the first eleven points of the game for the Big Red as a three from Alison Schafer followed to put Denison up early, 14-4, with 4:51 to play in the first.

Finishing the quarter on a 10-0 run, OWU went 0-for-6 from the field while senior Brittany Atkinson added five points in the final 1:08 of play to give DU a 23-4 lead entering the second quarter.

The Big Red extended their lead before the half when sophomore Valesha Province buried a triple at the 4:35 mark, and after a turnover from the Bishops, Province connected once again from the perimeter to go up 31-7 with 3:08 remaining in the first half. A pair of free throws from Zyah Beal allowed Denison to take a 34-10 lead at the break.

The offense continued to stay hot coming out of the half as DU buried seven of their first nine shots led by a pair of threes from Province and junior Lucy Bancone to extend their lead to 50-18 with 4:43 to play in the third. Ohio Wesleyan's Claire Sterling turned in four consecutive points off a Big Red turnover, but another three from Schafer and a layup from Bancone gave Denison a 31-point advantage, 57-26, with 10 minutes to play.

The Bishops were able to cut their deficit to as much as 28 points in the final frame, but at the 5:27 mark, Schafer connected on back-to-back buckets to take a 63-33 lead and help ice the game. The Big Red have now swept the regular season series over Ohio Wesleyan in three of the last four seasons.

Matching her career-high of 17 points, Hofer added six rebounds and four assists, while Province only trailed by three with 14 points off the bench. Schafer totaled 12 points on 5-of-11 shooting from the floor and Bancone chipped in seven points.

The Bishops were led by Sterling's 12 points while Kayla Richard and Nicole Popovich combined for 10 points and 11 boards.

Denison will return to action this Saturday, Feb. 3 when they host the College of Wooster at 1 p.m.