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Women’s Basketball falls to DePauw in NCAC title game

Alison Schafer  |  Photo by Linda Striggo
Alison Schafer | Photo by Linda Striggo

GREENCASTLE, Ind. – Denison women's basketball suffered a 61-50 loss to top-seeded DePauw University on Saturday afternoon in the North Coast Athletic Conference tournament championship game held in Greencastle.

Despite opening the game with a 14-5 deficit in the first quarter, the No. 2 seeded Big Red hit their stride with 2:19 remaining in the first half when Lauren Longbrake connected on a three-point at the charity stripe. Following a Tiger turnover on the next possession, senior Lucy Bancone tallied the steal and the bucket to bring the Big Red within eight, 26-18, with 1:44 to play.

On Denison's next possession, an offensive rebound turned into a second chance for the Big Red as junior Alison Schafer took the opportunity and connected from three. Bancone and Longbrake combined for a pair of layups to end the half as DU continued to chip away and only trailed by one, 26-25, entering the break.

Following an 18-8 run for DePauw in the third, Denison's Lauren Hofer tallied five of her first six free throws of the frame and Lily Morris buried a triple to decrease the Tiger's lead to three, 44-41, at the 7:43 mark.

Back-to-back jumpers fell for Longbrake as Denison trailed by one, 46-45, with 5:45 remaining. DePauw's Maya Howard countered with consecutive buckets and Claire Keefe finished a three-point play that put the Tigers ahead by seven with 2:52 to play.

DePauw put the game away in the final three minutes of action when they scored eight of the game's final 12 points of the night to capture their third NCAC Tournament championship in the last four years.

Longbrake and Hofer tied for a game-high with 15 points each while Longbrake led the pair with nine rebounds in 18 minutes of action. Shonta Lockett followed with six points and six rebounds, and Bancone added four points and four boards.

Keefe led the way for DePauw with 15 points, which included 7-of-8 from the free throw line. Howard chipped in 12 points, five rebounds and four assists, while Hayley Cange finished with 10 points and six rebounds.

Ending the season at 18-9 overall, the Big Red finished at 12-4 in conference play while winning 14 of their last 17 games. This was Denison's second appearance in the NCAC Championship game over the last three seasons.