Greencastle, Ind. - The 27-1 DePauw women's basketball team begins its quest for a second straight national championship and third since 2007 when it hosts Claremont-Mudd-Scripps tomorrow evening at 7:30 p.m. in an NCAA Division III Championship first-round game. The evening's first game, at 5 p.m., features 23-5 Ohio Northern against 25-2 Transylvania. The winners meet in Saturday's 7 p.m. second-round contest.
The Tigers are appearing in their 11th straight Division III tournament which is currently the third longest streak in Division III. It also is DePauw's 15th trip to the postseason in the last 19 seasons.
DePauw earned a spot in the tournament after winning the North Coast Athletic Conference Tournament with a 69-41 win over Denison last Saturday. The Tigers' lone loss came on February 22 at Ohio Wesleyan when the Battling Bishops ended DePauw's 58-game win streak by a 65-64 score.
Junior guard Savannah Trees leads the Tigers with 14.1 points per game, while senior forward Alex Gasaway is the other double-digit scorer at 12.1 each outing. Senior forward Alison Stephens paces the squad with 8.8 rebounds with junior guard Emma Ondik handing out 2.5 assists with a 4.7 assist-to-turnover ratio. Ondik enters the tournament as the top three-point shooter in the nation at 48.4 percent, while Trees is sixth in free throw shooting at 89.8 percent.
The Tigers head into the tournament as the Division III leader in fewest turnovers per game with just 10.2 and are second with a 1.35 assist-to-turnover ratio. DePauw is also second in three-point percentage (38.8), fourth in scoring margin (+24.8) and seventh in both scoring defense (50.8 ppg) and field goal percentage (45.9).
Claremont-Mudd-Scripps earned its fifth trip to the NCAA postseason and first since 2004 after winning the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference title. The Athenas enter the tournament on a nine-game win streak after defeating Chapman, 78-60, in last Saturday's SCIAC tournament championship game. Chapman defeated Claremont twice during the season.
Junior guard Kimberly Scamman paces the Athenas with 15.7 points, 2.6 assists and 2.7 steals per game, while senior guard Madeline Barnes follows with 12.8 points per contest. Scamman and sophomore forward Mara Falahee each haul down 5.9 rebounds per game.
The Athenas rank 25th in Division III by holding opponents to just 33.7 percent shooting from the floor.
Ohio Northern is appearing in its seventh Division III postseason and second straight. The Polar Bears earned an at-large spot after falling to Capital by a 67-50 score in Saturday's Ohio Athletic Conference title game.
Junior forward/center Jordan Kimes leads Ohio Northern with 15.2 points and 9.0 rebounds each game and has blocked 55 shots and connected on 58.7 percent of her field goal tries which ranks 10th in the country. Senior forward/center Cenzie Yoder averages 11.4 points per contest and leads the team with 3.4 assists. The Polar Bears rank 14th in the nation with 44.7 percent field goal shooting.
Transylvania earned automatic qualification into the 64-team field after winning the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Tournament with a 110-70 win over Hanover last Sunday. The Pioneers are appearing in the NCAA postseason for the third time and first since 2009.
Junior guard Nicole Coffman leads the way with 20.6 points and 2.3 steals per outing. Sophomore guard Katelyn Smith follows with 19.1 points with Madisen Webb next with 11.9 and a team-high 4.9 assists. Webb ranks fifth in the nation with 90.3 percent free throw shooting and has posted a triple-double this season. Junior forward Alex McKenzie scores at a 10.7 clip and averages a team-best 7.6 rebounds per game.
The Pioneers are fifth in Division III scoring offense with 85.5 points each contest, 11th in free throw percentage (76.2), 15th in field goal percentage (44.6) and 17th in scoring margin (+18.0).