Women’s Basketball Falls in NCAC Semifinal Heartbreaker

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Wittenberg Women's Basketball faces Wooster on Feb. 15, 2020 for Senior Day. The Tigers won 67-36 over the Fighting Scots and head to Oberlin Saturday, Feb. 22 on a five game winning streak.
Wittenberg Women's Basketball faces Wooster on Feb. 15, 2020 for Senior Day. The Tigers won 67-36 over the Fighting Scots and head to Oberlin Saturday, Feb. 22 on a five game winning streak.

Women’s Basketball returned to the Pam Evans Smith Arena last Tuesday, Feb. 25, to face Oberlin in the first round of the NCAC Tournament. The Tigers beat Oberlin, 46-36 to advance to the semifinals where they ended their season with a 60-52 loss to Denison.

The Quarterfinals

The Tigers opened the NCAC Tournament ranked third in the conference and hosted sixth-ranked Oberlin. The Yeowomen had defeated the Tigers, 71-54, the previous Saturday, Feb. 22, causing the Tigers to seek revenge.

The red and white began the first quarter on the attack as Korynne Berner (’20) placed the Tigers on the board early before Oberlin tied the game, 2-2, in the first minute. The Tigers shot thirty percent, outshooting the Yeowomen’s 8.3 percent in the first quarter. The Tigers ended the first quarter leading Oberlin, 8-4.

“Our focus was defense, when we played them last Saturday [Feb. 22], we were not very good on either side of the ball, that usually doesn’t happen to us,” head coach Kelly Mahlum said. “Our focus was making sure that we were really good defensively and that would help us create some offense.”

The Tigers used their defense effectively as they totaled 30 defensive rebounds with Berner notching nine total rebounds into her belt, while Riley Culver (’20) ended with ten rebounds and 11 points for a double-double.

The Tigers held off the Yeowomen for a 46-36 win and punched their ticket to the NCAC Tournament semifinals last Friday to face second-ranked Denison at DePauw University.

The Semifinals

The Tigers traveled to Greencastle, IN to face Denison at the NCAC Semifinals on Friday, Feb. 28. The Tigers stuck first as Berner snagged a missed shot from Culver to complete a layup in the paint. The Red and White held the Big Red scoreless until a free throw with 6:50 remaining in the first. Denison then went on a scoring run to lead the game 5-4, before finishing the first quarter with a 15-10 lead over the Tigers.

The Tigers started the second quarter with an attack early as Berner completed a fast break layup to bring the score within three. Denison led 15-12. Yunker would follow in Berner’s footsteps and complete a layup of her own. Delaney Williams (’21) helped create scoring opportunities as she led with eight rebounds and six assists. The Tigers headed to the locker room leading the Big Red, 29-22.

The Tigers opened the third quarter with a battle as Denison fought to reduce the red and white’s lead to one point as they led 31-30 with 6:32 left to play. Williams and Kalis helped keep the Big Red at bay as they completed layups to increase the lead to 35-30. The Tigers would end the third quarter leading the Big Red, 44-36.

The red and white opened the fourth quarter stumbling as Denison scored six straight points to cut the lead down to two. Denison then tied the game at 46 with 5:07 remaining off a free throw caused by Kalis. Denison pulled ahead to lead the Tigers 50-49 with 2:43 remaining, and nailed the coffin shut on the Tigers season. Denison defeated the Tigers, 60-52 in the NCAC Tournament Semifinal.

The Tigers spent a lot of time at the free throw line as Denison recorded 18 fouls against them. The Tigers shot eight of 13 from the line for 61.5 percent. Berner led with 16 points and seven rebounds in her final collegiate game while Culver accounted for six points and six rebounds. Jenna Bluemlein (’20) did not get many minutes against Denison but contributed with an offensive rebound to complete her career at Wittenberg. The Tigers ended their season with a 19-8 record for a 0.704-win percentage, the team’s best since the 2014-15 season.

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