CLEVELAND– Led by double-digit nights from Addie Buzas and Alison Schafer, Denison women's basketball rallied in their season opener to defeat Case Western Reserve University 67-63 at Horsburgh Gymnasium.
The Spartans led by as many as 14 early in the second quarter and held a 33-28 lead at halftime. It took an impressive fourth quarter from the Big Red to leave Northeast Ohio with a victory. Trailing 58-50 with 6:00 to play, the DU defense clamped down and the Big Red went to work at the free throw line. Over a four-minute stretch, the Spartans missed seven consecutive shots and with 2:56 to play, Buzas' layup gave Denison a 59-58 lead, its first since the 6:01 mark of the first quarter. After a pair of free throws broke the Spartans' scoring drought, Sarah Youngs knocked down a jumper to put Denison back in front, 61-60 with 2:13 remaining.
On Case's next possession, Aliyah Hunter stole the ball from Hillary Hellman and was fouled. Hunter split the pair of free throws to make it a 62-60 DU advantage. The shot of the night came with under a minute to go when Sydney MacBlane found Buzas in the paint for the bucket to put Denison on top by four. Denison's lead grew to six thanks to free throws by Young and Hunter. With four seconds remaining, Kendall McConico connected on a 3-pointer to make it a 66-63 game. Schafer was fouled after the inbounds pass and sank one of two free throws to put the game on ice.
The fourth quarter was all Denison as they outscored Case Western Reserve, 21-10. They held the Spartans to 3-of-15 shooting in the period while outrebounding them 13-6. DU also capitalized at the charity stripe, going 9-of-14 during the final quarter.
Schafer ended the night with 20 points and five rebounds, while Buzas recorded a new career-high with 18 points and seven rebounds. Brittany Atkinson and Youngs both contributed seven points each off the bench for Denison. Case Western's McConico led all scorers with 23 points and seven rebounds. Hellmann finished right behind with 18 points.
The victory avenges a 63-48 home loss to the Spartans on Nov. 30, 2016. This is also Denison's first season-opening win since 2015 when they defeated Case Western Reserve, 63-57.
Denison will return to action this Saturday, Nov. 18 as they open the Denison Classic with a 1 p.m. tip-off against Earlham College at Livingston Gymnasium.