Women’s basketball wins NCAC championship, punches NCAA tournament ticket

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DePauw’s 19th-ranked women’s basketball team defeated Denison University 61-50 to win their sixth North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) championship in eight years, clinching their 16th straight trip to the NCAA tournament.

A Denison jump shot with 5:45 remaining in the game cut DePauw’s lead to one point, but the women responded with a 10-0 run to expand the lead into double digits. Denison would only make one more shot for the remainder of the game.

Sophomore Claire Keefe was named the Nan Nichols Most Valuable Player of the tournament, as she finished the championship with a game-high 15 points and six rebounds. Senior Maya Howard also scored 12 points with five rebounds, four assists and two steals.

DePauw started the game on a 14-3 run, and a late first quarter jump shot by Denison held the Tigers’ lead to single digits. The teams opened the second quarter with only a combined four points in the first four minutes of action. A jump shot from sophomore Hayley Cange broke the drought and gave DePauw an 11-point lead.

DePauw held a lead as large as 13 points in the second quarter, but the Big Red closed the first half on a 12-point run, which cut the score to 26-25.

Denison was led by Lauren Hofer, who scored 15 points, as well as Lauren Longbrake, who scored 15 points off the bench.

Both teams struggled shooting from the free throw line, as they were a combined 4-23 from behind the arc. DePauw’s shooting [advantage came from the free throw line, as the Tigers scored seven more points from the charity stripe.

DePauw outscored Denison 30-22 in the paint and 10-7 on second-chance opportunities, however, Denison scored more points off the bench as they outscored the Tigers 25-15 in that area.

Junior Sydney Kopp was also named to the all-conference tournament team, along with Keefe.

The win qualifies the Tigers for their 16th straight NCAA tournament appearance. The selection show is tonight at 6pm, where the NCAA will announce the women’s opponent, date, time, and location of the game.

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