CRESTVIEW HILLS, Ky. -- The Denison women's basketball team gave fifth-ranked Thomas More all they could handle before dropping a 66-59 decision at the Conner Center on Sunday.
The two squads passed the lead back-and-forth three times and saw the score tied on three separate occasions in the opening 10 minutes of play. With the score deadlocked at 10-10, Gabrielle Nottage capitalized on a Jordan Holmes steal with a layup to give the Big Red a two-point advantage. Two possessions later, Nottage knocked down a fast break jumper to push the DU lead to four. Abby Owings pulled up for a transition triple shrinking the margin to one as Denison held a 14-13 lead after one quarter.
Neither team led by more than three points in a second quarter that saw three more lead changes and five tie-game situations. With time winding down in the half, Kirsten Paul took an outlet pass from Madison Temple and converted a fast break layup with six seconds to play. Paul's bucket gave Thomas More a 28-26 lead at the intermission.
Senior Emily Krumpe opened the second half with a layup off an assist from freshman Alison Schafer. Nikki Kiernan answered with a bucket that sparked a 9-2 run which resulted in a seven-point Saint lead. A three-pointer and jumper by Valesha Province helped DU close the gap to four at 39-35, but five-straight tallies gave Thomas More their largest lead of the quarter at 44-37. Now down 47-38, the Big Red defense forced three-straight Saint turnovers and turned them into seven points which resulted in a two-point DU deficit heading into the final period.
Thomas More built a game-high 15-point lead in the fourth thanks to an 18-5 surge over the course of seven and a half minutes. Province knocked down two free throws to make it a 65-52 game. After an empty Saints possession, freshman Addie Buzas converted in the paint to make it an 11-point game. Following a one-and-done by Thomas More, Schafer pulled DU to within eight with a triple off an assist from Nottage with 38 seconds to play. Inside the final five seconds, Owings split a pair at free throw line and Nottage connected on a pair which set the final score at 66-59.
Schafer led all scorers with a career-high 21 points, while Nottage chipped in 17 tallies to go along with three assists. Holmes pulled down a game-high 15 rebounds, blocked eight shots and registered three steals.
Owings and Temple both finished with 19 points, while Kiernan recorded a double-double with 13 poitns and 11 rebounds to go along with five blocks and four steals. Temple also had seven boards, four assists and fourth thefts.
The Saints outrebounded the Big Red 42-31 while also outscoring DU in the paint 36-20. As a team, Denison converted 42 percent (22-for-52) from the field highlighted by an 8-for-12 (66.7 percent) showing in the third period. Thomas More shot 36 percent (24-for-67) from the floor.
Denison falls to 1-5 on the year, while fifth-ranked Thomas More improves to a perfect 4-0 on the season. The Big Red returns to action on Wednesday when they host Case Western Reserve at Livingston Gymnasium. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.