DePauw concludes undefeated season with national championship victory
DePauw won its 34th game of the season and concluded just the seventh undefeated season in Division III women's basketball history Saturday night with a 69-51 victory against Wisconsin-Whitewater in the national championship game at Hope College's DeVos Fieldhouse.
The Tigers, who shot 62.5 percent from the field in the first half, jumped out to a 25-5 lead in the game's first 11 and a half minutes and then maintained a lead of at least 11 points thereafter. They led by as many as 24 (58-34) late in the second half and shot 61.2 percent from the field in the game.
“The way we started the game [Saturday], life was good,” DePauw coach Kris Huffman said. “We needed every bit of that in the second half. We disrupted their flow. We are out-sized inside in most games we play so ball pressure is one thing we try to do to buy some time. And we made shots; we were pretty hot.”
DePauw scored 14 consecutive points in a span of six minutes in the first half, turning a 9-4 edge into a 23-4 lead.
“Wow, what a fantastic team,” Wisconsin-Whitewater coach Keri Carollo said of DePauw. “What an impressive shooting effort they gave. I thought they shot 100 percent, but it was only 61. They took it at us from the start.”
The Warhawks (26-7) scored nine consecutive points immediately after the Tigers lead first reached 20, but Whitewater never got closer than those 11 points.
“Once we got going it was a little too late,” Carollo said. “Once we matched their intensity we hung in there okay, DePauw stepped up and rose to the occasion and we really didn't step up until the second half.”
DePauw senior guard Kate Walker was named to the all-tournament team while the Tigers' senior forward Ellie Pearson was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player.
“Coach Huffman never takes any credit and she never will, and that's why she is such a great coach,” Walker said. “You can have great senior leadership but you are nothing without your coach.
"In all reality coach,” Walker said, addressing Huffman. “You are the reason we're here, 34-0. We love her.”
A native of Madison, Pearson grew up less than 100 miles from Wisconsin-Whitewater. Her younger brother, Ben, is a sophomore third baseman and outfielder on the Hope College baseball team.
“It's neat to come here and then play a school that's about an hour from where I grew up,” Pearson said. “My brother is in Florida though, at spring training, so he didn't get to see the game.”
Walker led the Tigers offensively Saturday night with 17 points while Pearson added 14 points and a team-high five rebounds. Sophomore Savannah Trees scored 16 points for DePauw. Warhawks senior center Cortney Kumerow, who also was named to the all-tournament team, scored 22 points in the national championship game.
“Congratulations to [DePauw],” Kumerow said. “Going undefeated is really awesome.”