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NCAC Weekly Release (3-2-15) - Women's Basketball

NCAC Weekly Release (3-2-15) - Women's Basketball

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North Coast Athletic Conference tournament champion Wittenberg (23-6) earned its ninth bid into the 64-team NCAA Div. III Women’s Basketball Tournament, while DePauw (23-2) earned its 12th-straight berth, receiving one of the 20 at-large bids into the championship field. 2015 marks the first time since the 1994-95 season the North Coast will be represented by two teams in the national field.

Wittenberg captured its eighth NCAC Women’s Basketball Tournament title on Saturday evening with an 81-57 triumph over fifth-seeded Ohio Wesleyan (15-13) at Neal Fieldhouse in Greencastle, Indiana. 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. 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.

Wittenberg will travel to St. Louis, Missouri for its NCAA opening-round contest against Transylvania (25-2), which received one of the 20 at-large bids and has now made two-straight NCAA Tournaments. The winner of the Wittenberg/Transy contest will take on the winner of the Wash. U (23-2)/Spalding (22-4) match on Saturday at Wash U. 

Wittenberg has a 2-8 record in the national tournament, with both wins coming in their last appearance in 2004. That year, Wittenberg defeated Penn St.-Behrend, 81-49, in the first round and Messiah, 51-48, in the second round, before falling to Scranton in the Round of 16 by a 68-51 margin.

DePauw will host Hanover of the Heartland Conference Athletic Conference  (24-3) in a first-round matchup on Friday night. The other first-round contest in the bracket pits Maryville (25-3) of the USA South Conference against John Carroll (22-4) of the Ohio Athletic Conference. 

DePauw is appearing in its 12th-straight NCAA postseason and 16th in the last 20 years, including national titles in 2007 and 2013, as well as a third-place showing in 2002 and additional quarterfinal appearances in 2006, 2008 and 2014. 

The winners of Saturday’s second-round games will advance to one of four sectional-round sites, March 13-14. Sectional winners will move on to the semifinals and finals, March 20-21, to be held at Van Noord Arena on the campus of Calvin in Grand Rapids, Michigan. More information on the NCAA Tournament can be found HERE