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Big Red solidify NCAC Tourney seed with win at OWU

Lauren Longbrake  |  Photo by Jace Delgado
Lauren Longbrake | Photo by Jace Delgado

DELAWARE, Ohio - Junior Lauren Longbrake posted new career-highs with 22 points and 13 rebounds as Denison women's basketball rounded out the regular season with a 61-50 victory over the Battling Bishops of Ohio Wesleyan on Saturday afternoon at Branch Rickey Arena in Delaware. The win solidifies DU's position as the No. 2 seed in the upcoming North Coast Athletic Conference women's basketball tournament beginning next Tuesday.

Outrebounding the Bishops 50-32, the Big Red never relinquished the lead and went ahead by as many as 16 points in the second half. Longbrake led DU with 13 points and eight rebounds in the first half to give Denison a 32-23 advantage entering the half.

In the second half, the Big Red scored five points in the first 44 seconds of action on a jumper from Lauren Hofer and a three from Valesha Province to go ahead by 12, 37-25.

After a three from Molly Delaney cut the OWU deficit back to single digits, the Big Red went on a 7-0 scoring run, highlighted by a layup from Hofer and a three from junior Alison Schafer. After Zyah Beal and Claire Sterling traded threes at the end of the third, Longbrake finished a layup at the buzzer to help Denison carry a 13 point advantage into the final frame, 49-36.

Despite the Bishops outscoring the Big Red 14-12 in the fourth, Denison built a 10 point lead with 1:35 remaining and was able to secure their 16th victory of the season when Longbrake connected on a layup and finished the three-point play at the charity stripe. The Big Red ended the regular season at 16-8 overall and 12-4 in the NCAC. The loss dropped OWU to 10-15 and 5-11 in the conference.

Longbrake led all players with a career-best 25 points and 13 rebounds in 16 minutes off the bench. She was 9-of-15 from the field and 7-of-12 from the charity stripe. Beal followed with 11 points and three steals, while Hofer added nine points and eight rebounds. Schafer chipped in eight points and eight rebounds off the bench.

Sterling led the Bishops with 15 points and added five rebounds. Leah Maniaci tallied eight points in 18 minutes off the bench. Cierra Joiner followed with seven points and five rebounds.

As the No. 2 seed, the Big Red will host the No. 7 Hiram College Terriers on Tuesday, February 19 at 7:30 p.m. in the quarterfinal of the NCAC women's basketball tournament.