ANGOLA, Ind. -- Denison women's basketball opened their 2018-19 season with a 76-52 loss at No. 9 Trine University on Saturday afternoon at the MTI Center in Angola, Ind.
One year after going 12-14 overall and earning a spot in the NCAC Tournament, the Big Red shot 35.3 percent from the field, while the Thunder countered with 44.8 percent and 9-of-23 from long distance.
Denison received four, first quarter points from sophomore Zyah Beal and a three from Addie Buzas, but Trine leaned on junior Katy Steers and senior All-American Brandi Dawson to combine for 15 of their 20 first-quarter points as they held a 20-16 advantage after the first frame.
Despite the Thunder opening the second quarter with seven-straight points, DU came firing back when junior Lauren Hofer converted on a lay-up and Alison Schafer followed with a three-pointer to cut the TU lead to eight, 29-21.
Free throws from Lauren Longbrake and an Aliyah Hunter layup continued to chip away at the Big Red deficit, but Dawson scored Trine's final six points of the half to carry a 10 point lead into intermission, 38-28.
The Big Red converted on seven of their 11 shots in the third quarter, but the Thunder kept DU behind by 14, 51-37, with less than three minutes to play in the third. In the final 2:46 of the frame, Beal and freshman Isa Contreras combined for nine of Denison's 18 third-quarter points as they cut the deficit to nine, 55-46, entering the final period.
A layup from Hofer and consecutive free throws from Schafer kept Denison within 11 during the early minutes of the fourth, but Trine outscored the Big Red 15-2 over the final seven minutes of action and handed DU their first loss of the season.
Dawson led the game for Trine with 25 points and seven rebounds on 8-of-13 shooting. Steers added 14 points and seven rebounds, while Tara Bieniewicz chipped in 18 points off the bench, including 4-of-5 from three.
Beal and Hofer tied for the team lead with eight points each and combined for seven rebounds. Schafer and Hunter tallied 14 total points and nine rebounds while Contreras added seven points off the bench.
Denison will return to the hardwood next Friday, November 16 when they play Worchester State at 7 p.m. in the Hunter College Tip-Off Tournament in New York, N.Y.