Denison's second-half charge fell short as St. Vincent topped the Big Red 58-50 in the opening game of the 2012 D3Hoops.com Classic on Friday afternoon at the South Point Arena in Las Vegas, Nev.
The two squads battled to a 15-15 tie midway through the opening half. With 9:04 left in the period, the Bearcats went on a 14-2 run to build a 12-point lead with 3:38 on the clock. Junior Aubrey Rogers sparked a late push with a pair of free throws following an offensive rebound.
After a Bearcat one-and-done, senior point guard Serafina Nuzzo knocked down a baseline jumper to shrink the deficit to eight. After another missed three by St. Vincent, senior Nicole Coggins found classmate Kyli Parker for a triple that made it a two-possession game. The 8-0 half-ending run was capped off by a Mary Margaret Habel free throw with 1:28 remaining in the half.
The Bearcats regained a double-digit lead thanks in large part to an 11-2 run that opened the second period. Down 54-44, Habel buried a jumper off an assist from Candise Love that forced St. Vincent to call a timeout. Out of the break, Rogers forced a Devin McGrath turnover to give the Big Red another possession. Denison took advantage of the opportunity when Nuzzo found Kinsey Bryant-Lees for a bucket. With less than two minutes to play, Bryant-Lees grabbed an offensive board to keep another DU possession alive. That offensive rebound allowed Coggins to hit a runner in the lane to trim the margin to 54-50 with 1:28 to play.
McGrath knocked down a jumper out of a 30 second timeout and, after a Melissa Mansur steal, scored again to push the lead to eight with 49 ticks on the clock. Those quick buckets sealed the victory for St. Vincent.
The Bearcats outscored DU 36-8 in the paint, successfully nullifying any post presence. The Big Red held a 47-40 advantage on the glass, but committed 16 turnovers and shot 30 percent from the field compared to a 41 percent clip for St. Vincent.
Nuzzo posted her first double-double of the season after totaling 14 points and 11 rebounds. Parker chipped in nine points and six rebounds off the bench, while Coggins also grabbed nine boards and dished out three assists.
McGrath logged 28 points and 13 rebounds, both game highs, while Mansur and Jordan Clinton grabbed eight and seven boards, respectively.
The Big Red falls to 5-5, while the Bearcats improve to 7-3. Denison resumes play in Las Vegas on Sunday (Dec. 30) when they take on Lake Forest at 3 p.m. EST.