Tigers and Warhawks Battle for Division III Supremacy Tonight

Tigers and Warhawks Battle for Division III Supremacy Tonight

March 16, 2013

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BY3R9955Holland, Mich. - With last night's 59-56 NCAA Division III semifinal win over 15th-ranked Williams, the number-one ranked DePauw women’s basketball team moved one step closer to the second national title in program history as the Tigers face 26-6 Wisconsin-Whitewater in tonight's national championship game.

Tipoff from the DeVos Fieldhouse on the Hope College campus is set for 7 p.m.

"They’re a great team and are very athletic," DePauw head coach Kris Huffman said of Wisconsin-Whitewater at last night's postgame press conference.

"They have the inside game and guard play. Really they are well-balanced. We have to have a great team defense on the defensive end. Hopefully we’ll find more comfort on the offensive end."

The Warhawks earned a spot in the final game after Mary Merg hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to force overtime and then nailed a jumper at the end of the extra session for the win.

DePauw brings a 25-12 tournament record into tonight's contest and the Tigers have won 18 of their last 24 NCAA games. Tonight's championship appearance in DePauw's second in the last seven seasons as the Tigers won the 2007 title with a 58-55 win over Washington-St. Louis.

The Tigers' road to the finals started with an opening-round, 73-43 victory over La Roche and a 78-51 win againt Maryville (Tenn.) the following evening. They then topped #21 Washington-St. Louis, 59-41, in the sectional semifinals and #17 Christopher Newport, 76-55, in the sectional final.

BY3R7386Alex Gasaway leads the Tigers with 13.2 points per game with Savannah Trees next at 11.7 including 15.4 in the five tournament games. Ellie Pearson leads the team with 8.2 rebounds per contest with Kate Walker handing out 3.8 assists. Pearson has grabbed a tournament-best 58 rebounds while averaging a double-double of 12.6 points and 11.6 rebounds in the last five contests.

Wisconsin-Whitewater is appearing in its 13th NCAA postseason with a 20-12 all-time record and making its first appearance in the championship game. The Warhawks advanced to the semifinals in 2008 after defeating DePauw in the sectional final.

That year, Wisconsin-Whitewater finished third after losing to eventual champion Howard Payne in the semifinal and defeating the Tigers' former Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference foe, Oglethorpe, in the third-place game.

Like DePauw, the Warhawks were at home for all four tournament games leading up to the semifinals. They topped Wisconsin Lutheran (68-48) in the opening round and Carthage (71-51) in the second. In last weekend’s sectional, the Warhawks bear Simpson (76-63) and Hope (65-60).

Cortney Kumerow paces the Warhawks with 13.3 points and 8.0 rebounds per game, while shooting 50.5 percent from the floor. Kaitlyn Thihll follows with 11.8 points and 3.4 assists, while Merg rounds out the double-digit scorers with 10.3 points per outing.

For more information on the DePauw women’s basketball program, follow DePauw on Twitter (@DePauwAthletics / @DePauw_WBB) or like them on Facebook (www.facebook.com/DePauwAthletics).