(Banner Graphic/GRANT WIEMAN) [Order this photo]
The top-ranked Tigers (14-0) led throughout the contest but allowed a late Kenyon run to make the game close.
"It's a great win for us at home," DPU coach Kris Huffman said. "Kenyon is a very talented team and we're two teams that like to grind it out defensively, so it's hard to score."
Kenyon (11-4) trailed 31-15 at the half, but with DePauw's defense making it seem like much more.
Second-half lapses allowed the Ladies to fight their way back.
DPU never got the lead to more than 17 as Kenyon refused to back down from the highly-regarded hosts.
"I didn't know their record (coming in), but I knew they were good and undefeated in the conference and so are we," senior Ellie Pearson said. "Everybody wants to knock us off because we've got that big target on our back being No. 1, so I was definitely expecting a tough game."
Kenyon senior Kayla Ernst scored 14 of her game-high 16 points in the second half.
"They have two of the greatest scorers that we'll face this year in Ernst in the post and Kriete on the perimeter," Huffman said. "We expected this type of outcome."
Sophomore Lauren Kriete finished with 15.
DePauw began the game with an edge, led by sophomore guard Savannah Trees, who scored five of the team's first seven points. It soon became clear Kenyon wasn't afraid.
Sophomore Lauren Kriete hit back-to-back threes, narrowing the DePauw lead to 11-8 with 15:46 remaining in the half.
Pearson (13 points, 6-of-8 shooting in the game), the teams' leading rebounder, got aggressive offensively, making 3-of-4 shots in the half.
"I think if you do something aggressively and decisively, you're not going to make a mistake," Pearson said. "more."
Senior point guard Kate Walker scored all 12 of her points in the first half to give DPU a burst, but she appeared to be hobbled by a knee injury and was uncharacteristically sloppy with the ball.
Pearson (13, 6-8) and junior center Alex Gasaway (10, 5-13) were the only Tigers who found room to work in the second half.
The humble Tigers were slowed by Kenyon's defense, but they were just as relentless as their unranked opponents.
The Ladies shot 42.3 percent in the second half as they upped the tempo in the comeback effort, but just 32.7 percent for the game.
Pearson said despite the team's success and talent that dwarfs many of its opponents, it's easy to prepare defensively for tough games.
"Our practices are so competitive, and we've got such a deep team ... that keeps engaged. Even if the game is a blowout, our practices aren't blowouts," Pearson said. "(Being ranked No. 1) is not talked about in a positive way, it's more of a, 'heads up, you have a huge target on your back. Don't get cocky.'"
DePauw will look to continue its perfect season on Saturday when the play at Wooster at 1 p.m.
Kenyon 15 32 -- 47
DePauw 31 26 -- 57
Kenyon: Ernst 7-15 1-2 16, Kriete 6-11 0-0 15, Hirt 3-13 2-2 8, Adlam 1-8 0-0 3, Boelter 1-4 0-0 3, Anderson 0-0 2-2 2, Williams 0-4 0-0 0, Hobbs 0-0 0-1 0, Ladson 0-0 0-0 0.
DePauw: Pearson 6-8 1-3 13, Walker 4-6 3-4 12, Trees 4-12 2-2 11, Gasaway 5-13 0-0 10, Stephens 2-6 1-1 6, Abendroth 1-2 0-0 3, Molloy 1-3 0-0 2, Ross 0-4 0-2 0, Ondik 0-1 0-0 0, McGinnis 0-0 0-0 0.
Team scoring (three-pointers)
K 18-55 (6-20) 5-7 47, W 23-55 (4-14) 7-12 57.
K 31 (14), D 40 (17)
K 12, D 13