Greencastle, Ind. - For the fifth time in six seasons of North Coast Athletic Conference play, DePauw has captured the conference's tournament championship and is headed to its 14th straight NCAA postseason following a 56-50 win over Denison.
The 12th-ranked Tigers improved to 26-2, while Denison concluded its season at 14-14. The NCAA field will be revealed on Monday at 2:30 p.m. on NCAA.com.
Denison's Alison Schafer got the Big Red off to a quick start with a three-pointer just 11 seconds into the contest and Jordan Holmes followed with a layup to make it 5-0 with 7:54 left in the opening quarter.
DePauw, however, embarked on a 21-0 run to close the quarter as it hit nine of its next 13 from the floor, while the Big Red missed their final eight shots of the quarter.
Emily Budde, the tournament's Nan Nichols Award winner as the Most Outstanding Player, scored 11 of her game-high 18 in the opening stanza.
The Tigers kept the lead in double digits for much of the second quarter before the Big Red went on a 7-0 run to close the gap to 29-22. DePauw went to the intermission with a 31-22 lead.
Denison was within four early in the third before the Tigers stretched it to 43-34 after three.
The Big Red came back with eight straight to tie the game at 43-43 with 3:46 remaining, while holding the Tigers scoreless over the first 6:30 of the final frame. Melinda Franke's layup followed by a pair of Maya Howard free throws and a Claire Ryan jumper gave DePauw a 49-43 lead. Ryan's bucket came after she blocked a Denison shot on the defensive end and snagged the rebound.
DePauw led by as many as nine at 54-45 with 17 seconds remaining after Maya Howard hit four straight free throws. The Big Red closed to within four after a Jordan Holmes layup and Erica Holmes three-pointer. DePauw sealed the win as Maya Howard hit a pair of charity tosses with nine seconds left.
Budde's 18 points marked the second straight night she notched a season-high as she also had 18 in the semifinal win over Oberlin. Maya Howard added 12 in the win. Claire Ryan and Franke each grabbed eight rebounds as the Tigers held a 43-31 edge on the boards.
Jordan Holmes, the NCAA Division III all-time rebounding and blocked shots leader scored 15, grabbed 11 rebounds and swatted away six shots. Schafer followed with 13 points.
Joining Budde on the all-tournament team were Ryan, Schafer, Jordan Holmes, Miranda Diesz of Kenyon and Olivia Canning of Oberlin.