DePauw moves to Sweet 16
GREENCASTLE -- Caitlin McGonigal's 14 points off the bench helped lift the ninth-ranked DePauw women's basketball team to a 74-66 victory over Denison Saturday night to advance to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Division III tournament.
McGonigal led a Tiger bench that outscored Denison's, 28-18, and an offense that committed only five turnovers for the game.
"A game where it's nip and tuck like that, where we struggled on the boards, that became crucial," DPU coach Kris Huffman said. "I didn't realize it was that low a number."
DePauw did struggle on the boards, allowing Denison to collect 18 offensive rebounds and out rebound the Tigers 47-33 for the night.
DePauw's night started at the 18:29 mark, when Suzy Doughty hit a jumper to cut the Denison lead to one. McGonigal followed quickly to give the Tigers its first lead of the night at 4-3.
After a Big Red bucket, Doughty hit two free throws to push the Tigers back into the lead for good.
Liz Bondi, who scored a team-high 15 points, hit her first bucket with 11:46 on the clock to give DePauw an eight point lead, 18-10. Kalei Lowes followed a minute later with a three-pointer to run the lead to 11.
Toward the end of the half, Denison cut the DPU lead to six when Lauren Vashaw hit a layup with 4:31 to go in the half. McGonigal drained a three-pointer with 3:01 to widen the lead back to nine at 33-24. As the half ended, DePauw held to a 37-29 lead.
The second half started just as the first, as Doughty hit DePauw's opening basket and followed that with two free throws just more than minute later.
Bondi got on track after scoring only two points in the first half, hitting a jumper at the 16:33 mark to put the Tigers ahead by nine. She scored five of her points at the line, going 5-for-6 for the night.
McGonigal continued her strong play, scoring six points in the second half including a three-pointer with 14:11 on the clock.
Denison dialed it in from long range to keep the game close. The Big Red connected on 11 three-pointer Saturday, six of which came in the second half. Its final three came with 1:52 on the clock, when Ellen O'Brien connected and cut the lead to five.
DePauw made 4-of-5 free throws down the stretch to build its lead to eight and Bondi sealed it with a steal with eight seconds remaining on the clock.
Freshman Emily Marshall came up big for the Tigers collecting 10 rebounds, including three offensive rebounds.
"She's been a force of the glass all season long," Huffman said after the contest.
Saturday night also mark a milestone for Huffman as she gained her 300th career victory.
"Because we get to live to play another day this season, it feels awesome," she commented about the win.
Nothing will get easier for the Tigers as the head to Boston to face the Saints of Emmanuel College this Friday. The Saint are ranked 13th in the nation and enter its contest with the Tigers on a 20-game winning streak.
"We're in a pretty tough regional if you look at the teams were playing," senior McGonigal said. "A lot of the top 25 teams are in there and we definitely think we're one the teams that can battle with them."
NCAA Division III
DePauw 37 37 -- 74
Denison 29 37 -- 66
DePauw (74) -- McGonigal 14, Doughty 12, Pruzin 8, Lowes 7, Bondi 15, Marshall 4, Gr. Haehl 3, Gw. Haehl 9, Fernandez 2. Totals -- FG 26-61 FT 17-22 TP 74.
Denison (66) -- O'Brien 5, Sheffield 11, Hoch 8, Krupka 13, Simpson 11, Vashaw 2, Hard 6, Perrine 5, Hill 5. Totals -- FG 26-70 FT 3-5 TP 66.
3pt. FG -- DPU 5 (Pruzin, Lowes, McGonigal, Gw. Haehl 2), Denison 11 (O'Brien, Sheffield 2, Hoch 2, Krupka 3, Simpson, Perrine, Hill).
Next game -- DePauw will face Emmanuel College this Friday in Boston.