Wooster Bows Out in NCAC Quarterfinals to 12th-Ranked Tigers

Cat Fiorito

The College of Wooster women's basketball team fell to No. 12 DePauw University, 90-56, in the quarterfinals of the North Coast Athletic Conference Tournament on Tuesday evening at Greencastle, Ind.

First-year Cat Fiorito led the Fighting Scots (3-23) with a game-high 19 points on 7-of-13 shooting, including a season-best three 3-pointers, going 60 percent from beyond the arc.

After qualifying for the program's first conference tournament since 2013-14 with a win over Wittenberg University in the regular-season finale, head coach Lisa Panepento and staff lose three seniors – Danielle Besancon, Rachel Collins, and Natalie Coschigano – to graduation.

Combined, the senior trio has made 260 appearances in the Black & Gold, including 101 from Collins, who has played in every game throughout her four-year career.

In the first period, DePauw (24-2) opened up to a 12-3 lead behind six points from Sydney Kopp. Meanwhile, Wooster's Fiorito connected from deep before connecting on two opportunities at the foul line at the 4:15 mark to draw the Scots back with seven. On the ensuing offensive trip down the floor, sophomore Christina Vukovich cut the deficit to five with a layup in the paint as DePauw held on to a 12-7 lead with 3:34 remaining.

Two buckets from the Tigers' Blair Carlin – a 3-pointer and a mid-range jumper – sandwiched a trey from junior Aki Shurelds to make it a 17-10 DePauw advantage with under three minutes left in the first.

Fiorito, who tallied eight points in the opening period, cut the Tigers' lead to four (17-13) with her second 3-pointer of the period, but DePauw responded, ending the first quarter on an 8-0 run to take a 25-13 lead at the opening break.

The Scots scored the first four points of the second period, as Collins opened with a layup before helping force a Tigers' turnover on the other end, followed by a close-range conversion from Vukovich off the feed from sophomore Anna Gibbs.

Later on, DePauw's Claire Ryan hit from mid-range to give the Tigers a 30-17 lead, but the Scots, a hearty bunch, responded, starting with Vukovich in the lane, followed by two consecutive makes from Fiorito, who scoried a game-high 12 first-half points as the Scots narrowed the deficit to seven (30-23) with 3:32 to go in the half.

After a made 3-pointer from DePauw's Lex Gaumer, who finished with a team-high 17 points on eight shots, the Scots stormed back with a 5-0 run behind a 3-pointer from junior Katie Mandych, who showcased her stretch capabilities well this season, and a jumper from first-year Courtney Lockhart.

However, a crucial 11-1 period-ending run from the Tigers shifted the momentum back the home side's way as DePauw took a 44-29 lead heading into the break. Of note, the Scots matched DePauw's 16 second-quarter points and shot 35.5 percent from the floor during the opening 20 minutes.

Defensively, the Scots held DePauw to its lowest shooting percentage of the game (31.3) in the second period. The Tigers registered over 50 percent from the floor in all other quarters.

After quick buckets from DePauw's Ryan and Maya Howard, Gibbs opened the scoring for the Scots with an old-fashioned three-point play, drawing the Scots back to within 16 points at the 8:19 mark. Nearly three minutes later, Mandych connected from deep – her second of the game – to make it a 15-point game, but that would be the closest the Scots would get for the remainder of the game, as the Tigers closed on a 12-3 run with Fiorito draining her third 3-pointer of the game for the Scots.

DePauw opened the fourth with a 12-0 run before first-year Kylie Orr cut the bleeding with a mid-range jumper. Meanwhile, the Tigers limited Wooster to 13 points in the fourth while posting 23 of their own.

On the day, Wooster shot 32.3 percent from the floor (21-of-65), aided by 24 points from the Scot reserves, led by eight on five shots from Mandych. Leading statistical leaders on the season were Gibbs in points (12.4) and assists (3.0) and Vukovich in rebounds (5.3) and blocks (1.1).

Notable season-ending achievements include junior Aki Shurelds crawling up the program's ladder in career 3-point field goals made as she stands in sole possession of eighth-place with 86, while Collins cracked the top-10 list in the same category, ending her four-year career with 80. On the season, Shurelds made 43 three-pointers – including seven against Case Western Reserve (Dec. 3), tying a program single-game record – which stands tied as the sixth-most single-season total in program history.