WILMINGTON, Ohio - Denison University pulled away from a close game down the stretch to defeat the Wilmington College women's basketball team 81-75 in the championship of the 28th annual Damon's/Hampton Inn Tip-Off Tournament on Saturday.
"This game was hard-fought with neither team being able to pull away," Head Women's Basketball Coach Jerry Scheve said. "A team with 10 seniors [Denison] is supposed to find a way to win those types of games."
Both teams shot over 50 percent in the first quarter and failed to hit 33.3 per percent in the second quarter. All told, the Big Red utilized eight offensive rebounds including seven in the second quarter to take a 35-34 lead into halftime.
"Their offensive rebounding hurt us the entire game," said Scheve. "I'll talk about this all year, we are going to have to rebound the basketball at both ends of the floor. We missed some assignments that led to too many boards for them."
Wilmington scored the first seven points of the half on two jumpers from McKayla Binkley and a triple from Hannah Binkley to take a 41-35 advantage. Though the lead wouldn't grow, the Quakers held it until the midway point of the quarter when an Aliyah Hunter layup tied the game 45-45.
Denison 56-51 after three quarters, but Wilmington would chip away and get within a point when Zahrya Bailey made two free throws with 6:54 to play in regulation. Less than 30 seconds later, a Kelly Noll basket followed by a free throw on the next possession gave Wilmington a 60-58 lead.
Aa 12-2 spurt from the Big Red that followed capped by an Alison Schaefer triple gave the visitors their biggest lead of the game (70-62) with 2:09 to play. The hosts would get that deficit back a single possession as a steal and two free throws from Kennedy Lewis at the 1:22 mark making the score 72-69, but Denison hit free throws down the stretch to seal the win.
Wilmington shot a slightly better percentage (40.3-36.5) than Denison while both teams made 27 field goals. The Big Red hit two more triples, four more free throws and grabbed a total of 20 offensive rebounds.
"McKayla [Binkley] had probably her best game here, particularly by her defense," said Scheve. "We played 11 this weekend and none of them had opening-season jitters."
Zyah Beal had 21 points for Denison while Shaefer had 15 points and nine rebounds.
Anderson University defeated Miami University-Middletown 70-54 in the consolation final. Members of the All-Tournament Team include: Zyah Beal (Denison-MVP), McKayla Binkley (Wilmington), Alison Schaefer (Denison), Hannah Binkley (Wilmington), Lexi Dellinger (Anderson), Kelli Bush (Miami-Middletown).
Wilmington hosts the Fred Raizk Memorial Tournament next weekend.