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Big Red fly by Hawks for Tip-Off Tourney title

Valesha Province  |  Photo by Jace Delgado
Valesha Province | Photo by Jace Delgado

NEW YORK -- Thanks to a career-high 24 points from senior Valesha Province and 32 second-quarter points, Denison women's basketball secured the 2018 Tip-Off Tournament Championship with a 100-74 win over tournament-host Hunter College on Saturday afternoon at the Hunter Sportsplex in New York, N.Y. This is the first time that the Big Red have scored 100 points or more in a game since the 2010-11 season when Denison defeated Hiram 102-54.

Outscoring the Hawks in each quarter of play, including a 32-14 margin in the second quarter, the Big Red took control of the game at 5:42 in the second when a layup from Lauren Turner put DU ahead 31-26. After Hunter's Janine Conway connected on a layup to cut their deficit to three, Denison's Sydney MacBlaneIsa Contreras, and Province tallied three-straight three-pointers over the next 1:10 of action to extend their lead to double-digits and go in front 40-28.

Ending the first half on a 12-6 scoring run, the Big Red received additional buckets from MacBlane, Lauren Longbrake, and Zyah Beal to give DU a 26-3 second quarter bench point advantage as they carried a 54-34 lead entering the half.

Denison opened the second half with another three from Province and a layup from Lauren Hofer at the 8:09 mark to increase their lead to 61-38. Seven-straight points followed from the Hawks to cut into their deficit, but the Big Red totaled eight of their 38 points in the paint in the final minutes of the frame to end the quarter with a 77-54 advantage.

After Beal and Hofer combined for Denison's first six points of the fourth, Province connected on her sixth three-pointer of the game to increase the Big Red lead to 86-58. Province's six threes tied a program record last set by Alison Schafer in last season's 72-55 win over Hiram on Feb. 14, 2018. 

With 4:33 remaining in the game, Contreras buried her third three of the game to give DU their largest lead of the day at 95-66. Despite eight points from the Hawks in the final four minutes of action, a layup from Turner and a three from senior Rachael Williams secured the victory for the Big Red as they moved to 2-1 overall and captured the Hunter Tip-Off Tournament title. The Hawks fell to 1-2 on the season.

Province earned tournament MVP honors following her 24-point performance and 6-of-9 shooting from three. She also added three rebounds and five assists. As one of five DU players to reach double figures, Schafer was named to the All-Tournament team after she tallied 10 points and four assists one night after leading the Big Red with 16 points against Worcester State. Longbrake (14), Contreras (11), and Hofer (10) also finished with double-digit efforts in the win.

Hunter's Jade Aponte led all scorers with 25 points on 6-of-13 from the floor, while Janine Conway added 18 points and Ashley Arias chipped in 10 points and nine rebounds.

Winners of two straight, Denison will return to action on Tuesday, November 20 when they host Case Western Reserve for a 6 p.m. tip-off at Livingston Gymnasium.