By William Hamburger

Special to the Denisonian

Despite two tough losses against a dangerous DePauw squad (77-39) and Wittenberg (41-39), the Big Red Women look to rebound as the season enters its final month.

Last Wednesday, the women faced a strong #11 DePauw team that was able to take advantage of the Big Red’s inexperience by forcing 17 turnovers.

Earlier in the year, the Big Red lost a close game at home to the then #14 DePauw team, 61-55, but the story was different on the Tigers’ home court.

Even though the Big Red lost to a superior opponent, leader Mary Margaret Habel ‘15 believes it’s the games against tough opponents that the Big Red can learn the most from.

“DePauw is an incredibly disciplined team, which is a large factor in why they are so successful. They’re fundamentally sound and they execute,” Habel said. “Coming into this season as such a young, inexperienced team, those are things we realized we needed to make a priority. Playing a ranked DePauw team shows us just how important it is to limit our turnovers and pay attention to the details.”

On Saturday, the Big Red women faced a gritty Wittenberg team in which they led by 15 with 10:37 left in the second half but still came up short in a two point stunner of a loss, 41-39. Ultimately the Big Red were once again limited by their inability to control the ball as Wittenberg’s stingy defense forced 29 turnovers.

Habel says, “The loss to Wittenberg was a tough one. Something our coaches always stress after losses is to take what you can and learn from it, and then move on, like the importance of taking care of the basketball and consistently rebounding. Right now we’re fighting for the best possible NCAC ranking going into tournament time, so we’re always thinking forward.”

Despite the tough loss to Wittenberg, the Big Red showed a lot of promise on the defensive end en route to the 15 point second half lead. Wittenberg only managed to shoot 16.7 percent from 3 point range and 25.8 percent overall. Defense is something that has always been a focus and a source of pride for the Big Red.

“Our practices are predominantly defense-focused and we pride ourselves on our tough team defense. Shots don’t always fall but defense is something we can always control and it’s been a huge part of all of our wins this season,” Habel said.

“As a team, we know the importance of defense. It’s the core of Denison basketball, and each and everyone of us understands that.”

Habel wants the team to continue to fight this week as the season comes to a close. “Playing tough defense and executing offensively are going to be a big focus this week in practice,” she said. “We know how good we can be, we just need to put it all together.”

This coming Wednesday, the women will host NCAC opponent Oberlin, a team that they beat 72-48 on the Yeowomen’s home court.