GREENCASTLE, Ind. -- The Big Red secured a spot in the 2017 North Coast Athletic Conference Tournament Championship game with a 51-42 victory over second-seeded Kenyon on Friday night at Neal Fieldhouse.
With the win, sixth-seeded Denison will take on top-seeded DePauw, who defeated fifth-seeded Oberlin 58-54 in the first semifinal of the night, on Saturday at 4 p.m.
After trailing by as many as 12 with 3:24 to play in the third period, the Ladies closed the deficit to three at 35-32 as the teams entered the final quarter of play. Freshman Addie Buzas split a pair at the line to open the fourth-quarter scoring. However, an offensive putback by Charlotte Bussema shrunk the margin to 36-34.
Denison rattled off 10 of the next 14 points to take a 46-38 lead with less than a minute to play. Bailey Dominguez knocked down a trip to make it a two-possession game. After Gabrielle Nottage and Miranda Diesz traded off free throws, DU maintained a 47-42 advantage with 29 seconds on the clock. Sophomore Valesha Province and freshman Alison Schafer each knocked down a pair at the charity stripe to secure the nine-point Big Red win.
Neither team led by more than a possession throughout the majority of the opening quarter. Buzas broke that trend with a triple at the end of the period to give Denison a 12-8 edge. A 9-2 surge to open the second extended the Big Red's lead to 11 points. Kenyon closed out the half with five-straight points, resulting in a 21-15 halftime lead for DU.
The Big Red methodically built a 30-18 lead over the course of six and a half minutes in the third, but a 14-5 burst by the Ladies whittled the Denison lead to three after 30 minutes of play. Denison shot 31 percent (16-for-51) from the field while Kenyon converted 26 percent (17-for-66) from the floor. The Big Red had a 47-41 edge on the glass. DU also recorded 14 assists on 16 made shots.
Denison senior Jordan Holmes led all players with a game-high 17 points and 16 rebounds while also blocking six shots. Emily Krumpe added 10 points, while Schafer pulled down eight boards. Province and Nottage dished out three assists each, while Holmes finished with two steals.
Diesz paced the Ladies with 10 points followed by nine tallies by Dominguez. Griffin Tullis grabbed eight rebounds, while Diesz handed out five helpers.
Saturday will mark the Big Red's 10th appearance in the NCAC Championship game. In nine previous championship game appearances, Denison boasts a record of 7-2. Their losses came in 2012 and 2014, against DePauw.
* NOTE: A charter bus for Denison students wishing to attend Saturday's NCAC Championship game in Greencastle, Ind. will load at the Mitchell Center at 10:30 a.m., departing promptly at 11 a.m. There are 55 seats on the bus and they are first-come, first-served.