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Wittenberg Claims Eighth NCAC Tournament Title

Wittenberg Claims Eighth NCAC Tournament Title

Second-seeded Wittenberg (23-6) captured its eighth NCAC Women's Basketball Tournament on Saturday evening with a 81-57 triumph over fifth-seeded Ohio Wesleyan (15-13) at Neal Fieldhouse in Greencastle, Indiana. As tournament champions, the Tigers have earned the league's automatic bid into the NCAA Division III Women's Basketball Tournament, which will open with first and second round games next weekend on campus sites.

Wittenberg scored the game's first seven points, but Ohio Wesleyan battled back to cut the Tiger lead to one at 15-14 with 11:40 left in the first. However, Wittenberg would close on a 21-8 run to take a 36-22 lead into the break. The Tigers continued to build the lead that reached 27 points thanks in part to hitting 50 percent (5-for-10) from beyond the arc.
 
Senior Darbie Zirkle (St. Paris, OH/Graham) scored a game-high 29 points on 10-for-15 shooting including 4-for-5 from three-point range and grabbed nine rebounds. Senior Katelyn Haralamos (Maineville, OH/Kings) registered 17 points to go along with nine rebounds and Enri Small (Columbus, OH/Columbus School for Girls)chipped in with 15 points and three steals. Zirkle was named the Nan Nichols Award winner as the tournament's most outstanding player. In 98 total minutes of tournament action, Zirkle led the Tigers in scoring with 63 points (21.0 ppg) after shooting 44.7 percent (17-of-38) from the field, 40.0 percent (8-of-20) from beyond the arc and a perfect 6-of-6 from the free throw line. Listen to Wittenberg head coach Sarah Jurewicz postgame remarks here. Listen to Nan Nichols Award winner Darbie Zirkle talk after the Tigers win here.

2015 All-Tournament Team
Jordan Holmes, Denison
Savannah Trees, DePauw
LaNiece McRae, Ohio Wesleyan
Emily Julius, Ohio Wesleyan
Enri Small, Wittenberg

Nan Nichols Award (MVP)
Darbie Zirkle, Wittenberg

 
Quarterfinals:   Semifinals:   Championship:

Tuesday, Feb. 24

  Friday, Feb. 27
(at DePauw)
  Saturday, February 28
(same site as semifinals
#1 DePauw, 75, #Hiram 38 {Box}
   Wittenberg 76, Denison 72 {Box}
   Wittenberg 81, Ohio Wesleyan 57 {Box}
#2 Wittenberg 67, #7 Kenyon 60 {Box}
  Ohio Wesleyan 72, DePauw 65 {Box}
   Finals Photos
#3 Denison 65, #6 Allegheny 53 {Box}
   Listen To Coaches' Interviews    
#5 Ohio Wesleyan 75, #4 Oberlin 58 {Box}
  Semifinal Photos      
Bracket -- Stats -- Tickets  -- Directions -- History

Semifinal Recaps:

Second-seeded Wittenberg advanced to its league-record 15th tournament title game after outlasting third-seeded Denison, 76-72 in OT in Friday's semifinal contest from Neal Fieldhouse on the campus of DePauw University. In a game that featured 15 lead changes, the final 2:36 saw six and four tie-game situations. Wittenberg sophomore Michelle Brunswick (Middletown, OH/Madison), who grabbed a game-high 16 rebounds, scored her only points of the game when she sank a pair of free throws with 2.6 seconds left in regulation to send the game to the extra period. Senior Enri Small (Columbus, Ohio/Columbus School For Girls), who finished the game with 14 points and six rebounds, scored five points and had a steal in OT to lead the Tigers who outscored the Big Red 11-7 in the extra session. Small along with fellow seniors, Katelyn Haralamos (Maineville, OH/Kings)Heather Schroeder (Aurora, OH/Aurora) and Darbie Zirkle (St. Paris, OH/Graham) accounted for 58 points and 19 rebounds as all four players reached double-figures in scoring for the night. Defensively, Wittenberg held Denison to 21-for-51 (41 percent) from the floor, and just 25 percent from beyond the arc. The Tigers were 20-for-60 (33.3 percent) from the field. The difference came at the foul line where Wittenberg scored 34 points, including seven of their 11 overtime tallies, while the Big Red generated just 26 points at the stripe. The Tigers also took advantage of DU's 27 turnovers, scoring 26 tallies. Denison sophomore Jordan Holmes (Pittsburgh, PA/Mt. Lebanon) led all scorers with 21 points to go along with 13 rebounds and four blocks while playing all 45 minutes in the loss. Listen to Wittenberg head coach Sarah Jurewicz after the win. 

Fourth-seeded Ohio Wesleyan used seven second-half three pointers to knock-off DePauw, 72-65, and advance to the NCAC Tournament Final to face Wittenberg on Saturday. This marks Ohio Wesleyan's first appearance in the championship game since the 2009 tournament, when the Bishops defeated Allegheny by a 73-65 count to win their fifth NCAC tournament crown. Offensively the Bishops shot 52.9 percent from beyond the arc (9-for-17) and assisted on 16 of its 23 made field goals. Junior postEmily Julius (Avon, OH/Avon) Ohio Wesleyan with 17 points, going 5-for-6 from beyond the arc. Seniors LaNiece McRae (Youngstown, OH/Chaney) finished with 16 points and game-high 11 rebounds and Sarah McQuade (Dublin, OH/Coffman) added 13 points and a team-high five assists. DePauw senior Savannah Trees (Libertyville, IL/Libertyville) poured in a game-high 26 points on 11-for-18 shooting and grabbed seven rebounds in the loss. Listen to Ohio Wesleyan head coach Stacey Lobdell after the win.

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Quarterfinal Recaps:

Top-seeded DePauw (24-1) forced 23 turnovers and outrebounded eighth-seeded Hiram (7-19) 47-30 en route to earning a 75-38 victory in the quarterfinal round of the 2015 NCAC Women's Basketball Tournament. The Tigers were led by Savannah Trees (Libertyville, IL/Libertyville), who scored 13 of her game-high 21 points in the second half, to go along with four rebounds and four assists. DePauw got a nice lift from its bench as well outscoring the Hiram bench, 31-17. Defensively DePauw held Hiram to 28.0% (14-for-50) from the field and scored 19 points off the 23 Terrier turnovers. The Tigers won the battle in the paint 34-22 and totaled 19 second chance points. Sophomore Brianne Goodrich (Chesterland, OH/West Geauga) led Hiram with 10 points, three rebounds and one block in the losing effort.

Wittenberg (21-6) advanced to the NCAC semifinals for the fifth time in eight seasons under head coach Sarah Jurewicz after defeating seventh-seeded Kenyon (7-18), 67-60. Tuesday nights win marked the 11th in the last 13 games for the Tigers. Wittenberg was led by a career effort from senior Enri Small (Columbus, OH/Columbus School for Girls) as she poured in 27 points in just 20 minutes of action on 10-for-20 shooting from the field. Small was a remarkable 6-of-8 from three-point range. As a team, Wittenberg shot 37 percent from the field, compared to 44 percent for Kenyon, which also converted 11-of-21 shots from three-point range. The Ladies however shot just 3-of-10 from the free throw line, while Wittenberg finished 18-of-24 from the charity stripe and also won the rebounding battle, 42-30. Katelyn Haralamos (Maineville, OH/Kings) led both teams with eight rebounds, and she shared the team lead in assists with sophomore Michelle Brunswick (Middletown, OH/Madison), as both finished with four helpers. Kenyon senior Sarah Hobbs (Columbus, OH/Upper Arlington), playing in her final game, led the Ladies with 13 points, seven rebounds, five assists, and three steals.

Denison (15-11) secured its 12th trip in the last 13 years to the NCAC semifinals after defeating Allegheny (14-12), 65-53, Tuesday night from Livingston Gymnasium in Granville, Ohio. The Big Red led wire-to wire behind 26 points and 16 rebounds from sophomore Jordan Holmes (Pittsburgh, PA/Mt. Lebanon). Allegheny would cut the lead to one, 50-49, behind an 11-2 run with just under eight minutes to play. However, Denison held the Gators to just a pair of field goals over the final seven minutes, while outscoring them, 15-4. Holmes connected on 7-of-13 shots from the field while putting up eight offensive rebounds and eight defensive boards.  Her five blocks were just one off her season average. Junior Emma Pellicano (Pittsburgh, PA/Mt. Lebanon), who went over 1,000 career points in the contest, led Allegheny with 17 points and six steals.

In the final quarterfinal matchup of the evening, fifth-seeded Ohio Wesleyan (14-12) defeated No. 4 Oberlin (14-12), 78-58. Ohio Wesleyan junior Emily Julius (Avon, OH/Avon) scored a career and game-high 24 points, going 6-for-6 from the field during the second half. Julius also added eight rebounds, four assists, two blocks and a steal as the Battling Bishops advanced to the NCAC semifinals for the second-straight season. Ohio Wesleyan converted 50.0-percent from the field (33-for-66), while Oberlin went 20-for-61 (32.8 percent). Oberlin senior Christina Marquette (Huntington Beach, CA/Edison) ended her outstanding career with 22 points and seven rebounds in the tough loss. She departs Oberlin as the all-time leader in scoring (1,743 points) and rebounding (915). Her career free throw percentage of 81.3-percent (309-of-380) is also the best in school history.
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Tournament Preview

The DePauw Tigers, three-time defending conference champions, completed NCAC play with a perfect 16-0 record and secured the top-seed in the 2015 NCAC Tournament after defeating Ohio Wesleyan, 74-69, on Saturday. 2014-15 marked the third time in four years that DePauw has posted a perfect conference record. The Tigers' 23-1 record marks the sixth-straight year DePauw has won at least 23 games in a season and the 14th-straight season with at least 22 wins. Wittenberg leads all league teams with 12 NCAC championships, sharing the crown with Ohio Wesleyan in 1999 and '92. Allegheny is next with six titles, including five-straight from 1985-89. The Gators shared the NCAC's first championship in 1985 with Wooster. Additionally, Allegheny and Ohio Wesleyan tied for first in 2001. The Battling Bishops own five overall titles, while Kenyon and Denison each boast three and Wooster two.

DePauw (16-0, 23-1) will be the top seed in the 31st annual NCAC Women's Basketball Tournament. Tournament play begins with quarterfinal games at campus sites on Tuesday. Tournament seeding follows the final regular-season standings with the top four seeds hosting the quarterfinals. The Tigers host No. 8 seed Hiram (3-13, 7-18) and second seed Wittenberg (12-4, 20-6) hosts seventh seed Kenyon (5-11, 7-17) at 7:30 p.m. Third-seeded Denison (10-6, 14-11) hosts sixth-seeded Allegheny (7-9, 14-11) at 7:30 p.m. and fourth-seeded Oberlin (10-6, 14-11) hosts fifth-seeded Ohio Wesleyan (9-7, 13-12) with tip set for 7:00 p.m. Tuesday's winners will advance to the semifinals and championship on Friday and Saturday at the site of the highest remaining seed after the quarterfinals. Semifinal games will be held at 6:00 and 8:00 p.m. with the high seed playing in the later time slot. The championship game is set for 4:00 p.m. In the event that one institution hosts both the men's and women's "final four", the women's semifinals will be played on Thursday (2/26) and the men's semifinals will be played on Friday. The championship games would then be played on Saturday with the women playing at 3:00 p.m. and the men at 7:00 p.m. In this scenario, the gym will be cleared in between games and separate tickets will be required for each contest. This year's champion will again receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Tournament, which begins with first-round play on March 6th.

TOURNEY TALK: DePauw is the three-time defending NCAC tournament champion after defeating Denison, 69-41, in the 2014 tournament final. Denison (7), Wittenberg (7), Ohio Wesleyan (5) and Allegheny (5) have combined to win 24 of 30 women's tournament titles. DePauw (3), Kenyon (2) and Wooster (1) account for the six other tournament titles. Wittenberg leads all conference teams with 14 appearances in the championship game, while Ohio Wesleyan is close behind with 13. Last year Denison became the third team to reach the finals ten times, while Allegheny has made a finals trip nine times. Kenyon has six title game appearances, while Wooster has four. Oberlin, this year's fourth seed, will host a tournament game for the first time since 1990 as the Yeowomen look to make a run to the championship game for the first-time in program history. Hiram returns to the NCAC tournament as the eighth seed and will be looking to advance past the quarterfinal round for the first time in school history. DePauw, entering its fourth NCAC Tournament, carries a perfect 9-0 record in tournament action, while Wittenberg has been the most consistent team in tournament play with a .700 winning percentage (42-18). Ohio Wesleyan has gone 42-25 in the tournament (.627), followed by Denison at 33-22 (.600) and Allegheny at 28-25 (.528). Kenyon (30-29, .508) is the next closest team.