Second-ranked Mount Union Purple Raiders held on for a 72-69 overtime victory over Denison University on Wednesday evening at Livingston Gymnasium in Granville.
Trailing 58-57, senior Kyli Parker knocked down her fifth three-pointer of the night to put Denison on top 60-58 with 3:30 left in regulation. With less than two minutes to play, junior Gretchen Staubach knocked down a jumper to go ahead 62-58.
An old-fashioned three-point play by Rosa LaMattina shrunk the gap to one. Sophomore Mary Margaret Habel split a pair of free throw on the other end to rebuild a 63-61 edge. With time winding down, LaMattina knocked down a step-back jumper to tie the contest and force overtime.
In the extra period, Mount Union quickly gained a four-point lead thanks to buckets by Brittany Kilgore. Now down 70-65, senior point guard Serafina Nuzzo drained a jumper to shrink the deficit to three. After a pair of LaMattina free throws, Nuzzo scored with 14 seconds to play to make it a one-possession game. On the ensuing inbound pass, the senior point guard came away with steal to give Denison a chance at tying the contest. However, Nuzzo's game-tying attempt was partial blocked by Kilgore, allowing the Purple Raiders to hold on for the win.
In the opening period, Mount Union used an 11-0 run to build a 25-10 lead with less than four remaining in the half. The Big Red quickly answered with a 10-0 burst that was capped off by a Nuzzo jumper at the buzzer. Denison entered the locker room down by five.
Despite falling behind 40-31 midway through the second half, the Big Red used a 15-2 run to erase the deficit and take its first lead of the ball game. Nuzzo kick started the charge with a triple off an assist from classmate Nicole Coggins. On the next offensive possession, Coggins found Nuzzo for another trifecta to trim the lead to 42-37. After a one-and-done by Mount Union, Coggins continued her unselfish play, this time finding fellow senior Kinsey Bryant-Lees for the score. DU quickly regained possession after holding the Raiders to just one shot attempt. Denison shrunk the margin to 42-41 after Habel scored on a drive from the foul line.
For the third-straight trip, Mount Union took one unsuccessful shot before returning to the defensive end of the court. After trailing for the entire game, Nuzzo found Coggins for a deep triple on the left elbow to put Denison in front 44-42. A pair of free throws on their ensuing offensive possession by Staubach gave the Big Red a four-point lead. With the score tied at 46-46, the two squads traded baskets, eventually leading to a 55-55 tie and a thrilling OT finish.
Parker paced the Big Red attack with 17 points, including a 5-for-6 performance from behind the arc. Nuzzo also chipped in 16 tallies and six steals, while Habel logged 15 points and seven rebounds. Staubach and Coggins each grabbed a team-best eight boards, while Coggins also dished out a game-high seven assists.
LaMattina led all scorers with 27 points, while Amanda Turner and Aly Daniel each added 10 tallies. Marybeth Leitch pulled down 10 rebounds, while LaMattina recorded six assists and five steals.
Denison falls to 4-2 on the year, while the Raiders improve to 5-0. The Big Red opens North Coast Athletic Conference play on Saturday when they entertain top-ranked DePauw University at 2 p.m.