GREENCASTLE -- DePauw University women's basketball players Liz Bondi and Suzy Doughty both have been critical components for the Tigers this season.
Through their efforts and the efforts of the remaining members on the squad, the Tigers have managed to advance to their second Final Four NCAA Division III Tournament appearance in five seasons.
Both are seniors this season and neither have played this deep into a season, making the Final Four trip to Springfield, Mass., all the more important.
Doughty, a Mooresville native, only averages 7.2 points per game but leads the squad in assists with 169 for an average of 5.5 per game.
She said earning a trip to the Final Four is something she's wanted to happen for quite some time.
"It is so exciting to be going to the Final Four," Doughty said via e-mail. "We have worked so hard the four years I have been here and every year we come closer and closer and now it is finally happening for us.
"We have always had the talent, but now we have a lot of experience as well. We have five seniors that will do whatever it takes to make sure we play the best we can."
The remaining seniors on the DPU squad include Kristy Mahon, Caitlin McGonigal and Bridget Bailey.
Mahon is from Cincinnati and averages 0.6 points per game while McGonigal is from Indianapolis and averages 7.8 points per contest, third-best on the squad. Bailey is from St. Louis and scores 6.6 points per game.
Bondi hails from Park Ridge, Ill. She leads the Tigers on offense this season with an average of 15.5 points per game, having tallied 466 points in 30 games. She was named the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference Player of the Year this year but admits just making the Final Four trip isn't enough.
"We are all extremely excited about being in the Final Four," Bondi said. "However, we realize that we still have a lot of work ahead of us if we want to obtain the ultimate goal, a national championship.
"It seems like the past couple of years, we have been so close to getting there, but just could not pull it out."
Bondi added it's obvious the hard work the Tigers have gone through this season is paying off.
"It feels great to know that all the hard work and dedication got us this far," she said. "As one of five seniors, I am really looking forward to this experience. I am honored that I have had the opportunity to play on this team."
DePauw advanced to the Final Four last in 2002. However, none of the players on the current roster were on that squad. DPU coach Kris Huffman said she and her coaching staff, consisting of Mary Smith, Tria Yoder and Brian Kern, are trying to keep things in perspective.
"We're trying to treat (the game) like any other game," Huffman said.
The Tigers will face Mary Washington, a team that has won 26 consecutive games and is 30-2 on the season. Heading into the game, the Eagles are ranked 10th in the nation but DePauw is ranked ninth.
Both Doughty and Bondi said they did not know much about their Final Four opponent. However, both believe the Tiger game plan won't change much.
"Our keys that we have focused on all year will be the same," Doughty said. "Defense and rebounding will decide the weekend for us. When we are at our best defensively, we hold teams to scoring lows, but when our defense collapses, we lose."
"We are going to have to be really strong on the boards and concentrate on the fundamentals," Bondi added. "I think we really need to focus on the same things that we have been trying to capitalize on the entire season."
Both realize this weekend will conclude their collegiate careers and are looking forward to the challenge.
"Being able to finish up the season going to the Final Four is an indescribable feeling," Bondi said.
"We are proud of what we have done so far, but we will be disappointed if we do not win a national championship," Doughty said. "With our great chemistry and depth, we have a fair shot at winning it all.
"We just have to make sure that we play the best we can on that particular day."