Denison used a 6-0 run over the final three minutes to secure a 61-56 victory over Allegheny College on Saturday afternoon in North Coast Athletic Conference play from Meadville, Pa.
A triple by Jessica Mrdjenovich at the end of the first period proved to be vital as it sparked a 7-0 half-opening run that gave the home team a 32-31 lead less than two minutes into the second. The Gators' Daryl Ford scored all seven points thanks to an old-fashioned three-point play and back-to-back jumpers.
Head Coach Sara Lee's squad responded over the next 9+ minutes with 20-8 run that gave DU a 51-40 advantage. Seniors Kyli Parker and Serafina Nuzzo fueled Denison's game-changing run with eight and six points, respectively, while junior Gretchen Staubach capped off the spurt with back-to-back buckets.
In what turned into a game of second-half runs, Allegheny orchestrated a 16-5 burst of its own to retake a slim 56-55 edge. Senior Kinsey Bryant-Lees regained the lead for DU with a 3-pointer off an assist from classmate Nicole Coggins. Following a two minute scoring drought, Staubach split a pair at the line to extend the lead to 59-56 with 53 ticks on the clock.
Allegheny had an opportunity to cut into the deficit at the charity stripe with 41 seconds to go, but an Emma Pellicano miss and a Parker defensive rebound forced the home team to send Staubach to the line. The junior post player knocked down both attempts to make it a two-possession game. With four seconds left, Nuzzo came up with the game-clinching rebound after a Gator miss from beyond the arc.
The Big Red held the lead for the majority of the first period, including a nine-point advantage following a layup by Mary Margaret Habel with 28 seconds to go. With time winding down, Mrdjenovich's three at the buzzer shrunk the deficit to 31-25.
Staubach led all scorers with 18 points after going 6-for-10 from the field and knocking down 6-of-8 attempts at the free throw line. Parker provided a spark off the bench with 14 points, including a perfect 4-for-4 performance from 3-point range. Nuzzo also chipped in 10 points, a team-best seven rebounds and four assists.
As a team, DU shot 41 percent from the field, including a 7-for-14 outing from long range. The Big Red held a 32-30 edge on the glass, including a 14-7 advantage in offensive rebounds. Denison got 25 points from its bench compared to just eight tallies by the Allegheny reserves.
Ford paced the Gators with 15 points, eight boards and three assists, while Pellicano added 10 tallies. Allegheny shot a 47-percent clip, but were just 5-for-15 from behind the arc.
Both squads move to 9-8 overall and 4-4 in NCAC action. The Big Red returns to the court on Wednesday when they host Oberlin for a 6 p.m. tip-off.