By Lisa Byers
February 2, 2013 7:00 a.m. MEADVILLE —
Since Saturday afternoon’s upset win over Kenyon, the Allegheny women’s basketball team has been flying high.
On Friday, the Lady Gators had an opportunity to use that momentum and create a stir in NCAA Division III with No.1-ranked DePauw making a visit to the David V. Wise Center.
Allegheny certainly had the motivation, but in the end the Tigers proved just why they are considered the top Division III team in the country.
DePauw shot 45.1 percent from the field and dominated the boards on its way to a 67-36 win over Allegheny. Now the Gators must put that game behind them and move onto today’s task of beating Wittenberg back at the Wise Center. Tipoff is set for 3 p.m.
With the loss to the Tigers, Allegheny fell to 11-9 overall and 6-5 in the NCAC. And with Wittenberg’s loss to Hiram last night, the Gators enter today’s game in fourth place in the NCAC standings, one-game ahead of Witt and Ohio Wesleyan.
The top four teams earn a home game for the NCAC tournament quarterfinals. The Gators still have five games left in the regular season, including today’s contest and matchups with second-place Kenyon and third-place Denison.
“We know what we have to do against Witt,” Allegheny senior Ann Ryan said. “We know it’s going to come down to our defense and communication. We are ready to play Wittenberg (today). I know my team is going to take this energy from this loss and carry it over for (today) and come out and play hard.
“We just came off a great win against Kenyon. We’re still hyped about that. And (DePauw) is the No. 1 ranked team in the nation. We have to give them credit for that and move on to Witt. We need that game.”
The Lady Gators played like they needed last night’s win too. DePauw was physically bigger. The Tigers shot the lights out of the ball, and they played pretty stout defense, holding the Gators to just 28.6 percent shooting and no 3-pointers. But Allegheny played with a lot of heart and a lot of emotion, particularly in the second half.
“They were motivated for (the game), because they know how good (DePauw is),” Allegheny head coach Kate Costanzo said. “I think there is still a little bit of an intimidation factor. We came out and we played timid the first half. On offense, we weren’t looking to drive. We weren’t being aggressive. I thought we did a much better job in the second half and I was happy to see that.”
DePauw shot 54.2 percent in the first half. The Tigers were 13 of 24, including a 3 of 4 effort from 3-point range. They out-rebounded Allegheny 22 to 12 in the first half – 15 of those boards came on defense.
The Tigers outscored Allegheny by just 12 in the second half. They still dominated the glass, but shot 37 percent and made just 1 of 9 3-pointers.
“We did a good job on defense for the most part,” Costanzo said. “We kept them in the 60s. There were a couple times when they almost had shot clock violations. But it’s those second chance shots they got and our inability to score on our end that made the difference.”
“We knew we were going to have to rely on our defense and make defensive stops,” she said. “We had moments of greatness where it was fabulous, where we’d get the shot clock down to the last couple of seconds, but then we also had our moments of weakness. But we are a young team. We have a lot of freshmen on our team. And (DePauw) hit every open shot like a No. 1 team does.”
DePauw, which moved to 21-0 overall and 12-0 in the NCAC, was led by Alex Gasaway’s 14-point, 12-rebound double-double. Savannah Trees also had 14 points. Ellie Pearson had 10 points.
For the Gators, Ryan finished with 10 points. Vigliotti had a team-best seven rebounds.
DePauw is the 2007 NCAA Division III champion. The Tigers are ranked No. 1 by d3hoops.com and USA TODAY Sports and have 12 straight 20-win seasons.
“It’s good to see the best and to go up against them and see what you have to work on,” Costanzo said. “The last 10 years … They have historically been one of the top teams.”