The Big Red’s record (23-4) demonstrated their success this season to the NCAA selection committee. Denison received a bid to play 14th-ranked Ohio Northern University at Hope College in Mich., in the NCAA Tournament on March 4.
The Big Red women’s team has appeared in the NCAA Tournament six times while this is only the third time ONU has gone to the tournament.
Even in a neutral gym with a limited crowd, both teams started off strong and competed for the lead.
With back-and-forth lead changes in the first quarter ONU pushed ahead at the beginning of the second quarter.
During the second quarter Denison caught back up with two three pointers, the first by Taylor Lindquist ‘16. A couple minutes later Second Team All Conference, Kellie Arter ’16 also put up a three. Arter was fouled going up for the three by the Polar Bears and made the free throw.
Denison’s double three pointer comeback allowed the Big Red to finish the first half with a five point lead, 24-19.
The Big Red did not start the second half as strongly as they ended the first half. The Polar Bears started the third quarter with a 6-0 lead. Denison soon took the lead after Erica Holmes ’17 was fouled twice and made all four free throws.
“We needed to come out the second half stronger and also finish better down the stretch,” Coach Sara Lee said.
Denison picked up their speed and their offense became much more aggressive thanks to NCAC Player of the Year Jordan Holmes ’17 and Honorable Mention Emily Krumpe ’17. Krumpe led the team with 12 points in the game and Holmes followed with 11 points. Even with accurate shooting by Denison, the third quarter also constantly shifted leaders.
Denison started the fourth quarter with the lead and Denison was able to keep the lead. Gaby Mehringer ’17 helped add to the success of the start of the fourth quarter after making a two-pointer for a total of eight points during the game. This lead was then crushed in the last two minutes by ONU’s three pointer and four made free throws.
Emily Krumpe ‘17 said that the Big Red’s defence kept them in the game up until the very end.
“We pride ourselves in being a team that focuses on playing the best defense possible, whether that be rebounding or shutting down their big players,” Krumpe said.
Lee won her fourth NCAC coach of the year and said it was a “fun season and I think we played some very good basketball. Defense was outstanding all season. Great leadership and team chemistry.”
Even though the season ended short Lee “[hopes] we have gained some confidence knowing we can play with the best teams in the country.”
Krumpe said this season the team was very unique and played well together.
“When we are all able to come together and buy into the ideals and values that we have, we can accomplish so much more than people expect us to,” Krumpe said.
The Polar Bears moved on to the second round of the tournament after beating the Big Red, 62-53. Denison finished their season with a 23-5 record whereas Ohio Northern University continued on to play 25th-ranked Carnegie Mellon and lost 68-65.