Late Rally Pushes Big Red Past CWRU in Season Opener

Late Rally Pushes Big Red Past CWRU in Season Opener

The Case Western Reserve University women's basketball team led for the majority of the game on Wednesday afternoon, but a strong finish by Denison University propelled the Big Red past the Spartans 67-63 in the opening game of the season for both teams at Horsburgh Gymnasium.

Sophomore guard Kendall McConico recorded career-highs with 23 points and seven rebounds, shooting an efficient six-for-nine from the floor and two-for-two from long range, while adding a nine-of-11 performance from the charity stripe.  Junior forward Hillary Hellmann finished with 18 points and three steals, and sophomore guard Alicia Marie Gonzales contributed six points and a team-high for assists.

The Spartans took a 6-5 lead with 5:42 remaining in the first quarter on a layup by Hellmann, and would hold the lead until 2:56 remained in the fourth quarter.  An and-one by McConico with 1:02 remaining in the first quarter helped the Spartans garner an 18-9 edge by the end of the first frame, and the team's advantage would balloon to as many as 14 points after a jumper by freshman Emily Todd extended the Spartans' lead to 25-11 with 8:08 remaining in the half.  Denison would trim the score back to a point in the final minute of the quarter, but a layup by Hellmann and a pair of free throws from McConico put the Spartans ahead 33-28 at the halftime break. 

McConico scored 12 of her 23 points in the first half alone, with Hellmann chipping in eight over the first 20 minutes of play.

Case Western Reserve built its lead back to 11 with 6:24 left in the third after a three-pointer by Hellmann, and ended the third quarter ahead 53-46 following a put-back at the buzzer by McConico.  The Spartans led 58-50 with 6:44 remaining in the game, but a 9-0 run by the Big Red gave them their first lead since the first quarter with 2:39 left.  After exchanging baskets, Denison took the advantage for good on jumper by Sarah Youngs with 2:13 to play, and extended their lead to six, 66-60, with 17 seconds to play.  A late three by McConico cut it back to a one-possession game, but a free throw by Alison Schafer with two seconds remaining put the contest out of reach for the Spartans.

The Spartans finished the game shooting 34.5% (20-of-58) from the floor, including a 33.3% mark from beyond the arc (six-of-18), and converted 89.5% of their free throws (17-of-19).  Denison finished the game shooting 36.5% from the floor, and were led by a 20-point performance from Schafer, in addition to an 18 point, seven rebound effort from Addie Buzas.

Case Western Reserve will look to rebound on Saturday, November 18th, when the team makes the trip across town to face John Carroll University.  The game is slated for a 3:00 p.m. tip off.