Scots Fall as They Regroup Ahead of NCAC Tournament

Image courtesy of Wooster Athletics.
Payton MacLean, Contributing Writer

On Saturday, Feb. 18, the Fighting Scots women’s basketball team welcomed the scorching hot DePauw Tigers to Timken Gymnasium for their final game of the 2022-23 season. The Scots aimed to end the Tigers’ impressive 10-game winning streak and secure their first conference victory of the season. DePauw had won all but one of its conference games prior to the matchup, with the lone setback coming from a 20-4 Wittenberg Tigers team, and their momentum was evident during warmups as well as in the last moments before tipoff, as seen by their fervent cheering and frequent high-fives exchanged among teammates.

DePauw won the opening tip, and from the first possession, it was obvious that their relentless ball movement and off-ball screens would be a nightmare for the Scots. The Tigers dominated the paint and led by 10 points at the start of the first media break after getting three offensive boards for put-backs and making two mid-range jump shots. While the contagious clapping and shouting continued from the Tiger bench, Wooster regrouped on the sidelines.

After the break, Mia Walker ’26 hit a crucial floater to cut into the lead and Ella Biondi ’26 later made two key shots of her own. As the quarter progressed, it was clear that Biondi was the x-factor in the Scots’ offense, as she continued to post-up underneath and create tough shots while under heavy contention. DePauw maintained its advantage over the Scots in both rebounding and shooting despite Biondi’s attempts as they sailed to a comfortable 18-point lead. A big-time three-point buzzer-beater at the end of the quarter by Shalen Guilliams ’26 trimmed that margin down to 15.

The second quarter featured much of the same from an electric DePauw side, as the Tigers’ shots kept falling, going three for three from behind the arch once play restarted. It was Biondi once again who responded with a quick jumper, which was followed by a deep three from Guilliams. Despite these efforts, Wooster never seemed to find their rhythm due to a relentless press from the Tigers that resulted in three consecutive turnovers from the Scots’ backcourt, upon which DePauw continued to capitalize. Despite DePauw’s shots continuing to fall, Biondi was able to stand out on defense as she bravely battled for each defensive board and block that she gathered (12 and four, respectively). Guilliams and Walker each made big buckets on the other side of the court to keep the game interesting with a scoreline of 24-47 going into the half.

All eyes were now turned to the Wooster huddle to see how the team would respond to the deficit, as DePauw continued to carry their rah-rah style throughout their layup lines. The Tigers proved that their first-half display of shooting range was no mistake as they cashed the opening three-point attempt of the half and after a quick bucket from Biondi, hit their next two long-range field goals as well, eventually amassing an eight-to-zero run. The Scots were not deterred by the fiery Tigers, and it was the experienced hand of Paige Wells ’23 who retorted with a three of her own, followed by a tough take to the rim by Walker. This run seemed to spur the Scots defensively, as the closing minutes of the third quarter were nothing short of a defensive showcase which held the Tigers to a dismal five points in the closing four minutes of the period.

Unfortunately, Wooster struggled to maintain this outstanding defensive effort in the fourth quarter as DePauw used their extensive bench to rotate and find new bodies to wear down the Scots, who only used nine players overall, with six of those players playing for more than 20 minutes. Throughout the game, the Tigers’ bench scored an impressive 35 points compared to Wooster’s three. With 6:51 left in the game, a pair of Biondi free throws provided the Scots’ only response to the Tigers’ attack as they struggled to create shots in the opening minutes of the quarter. Guilliams broke the drought from behind the arch once again, as she finished with 11, going three for five from range. A minute later, Biondi made a lay-up to finish with a show-stopping 22 points on the day. DePauw stuck the final dagger into the scoreline by hitting three additional three-pointers in the dying minutes of the contest; the final score was Wooster’s 45 to DePauw’s 84.

Although the loss was not the regular-season ending the Scots had dreamed of, the team competed well against a highly-touted squad that has been gaining national recognition in recent weeks, and spirits remain high all around as Wells stated that, “I think that it was a really good last good home game for us, and I feel proud of what happened.” She also added that the team is “excited for the tournament, and excited to see what we do in the playoffs.”

The Scots go into this year’s NCAC tourney as the eighth seed and look to keep their season alive as they travel to a top-seeded Wittenberg at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 21 for an exciting playoff showdown.

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