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Ladies basketball advances to Friday NCAC semifinal game

The Ladies defeat Wittenberg behind 18 points from Griffin Tullis ’18 despite early turnovers.

In the first round game of the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) postseason tournament on Tuesday afternoon, Ladies basketball overcame a rough first half to defeat Wittenberg University 61-46. The Ladies, who claimed the second seed in the NCAC with their 12-4 conference record, hosted seventh seed Wittenberg (6-10 NCAC).

It looked like the Ladies might run away with Tuesday’s game right after the opening tip, as the team jumped out to an early 18-8 first quarter lead. But Wittenberg switched up their defensive scheme to include a full-court press, and the Ladies cracked offensively under that pressure, turning the ball over several times to give the Tigers several easy buckets in the transition. This continued until early in the third quarter, when the Tigers trailed by just two points. The Ladies finally overcame the full-court press after that thanks to the ball-handling and passing of Sidney Cera ’17 and Miranda Diesz ’17. Cera and Diesz sparked a run early in the fourth quarter that extended the lead to 15 by the conclusion of the game.

In the victory, forward Griffin Tullis ’18 scored a career-high 18 points to lead the Ladies. Ifeoma Archimalo ’18 also scored 12 points on 6/7 shooting, and was often the target of Cera or Diesz when she rolled to the rim after setting an off-ball screen. Diesz had six assists while Cera had five.

Head Coach Suzanne Helfant was ultimately happy with how the Ladies adapted to the Tigers’ defense. “We had difficulty adjusting to the pace and pressure of the defense,” Helfant said on Wednesday. “Once we settled into our press offense we were able to find some open looks and easy baskets.”

With the victory, the Ladies advanced to the NCAC semifinals which will be held on Friday afternoon, when they will host Denison University at 7 p.m. Denison, who beat fifth-seed Oberlin College on Tuesday night, secured the fourth seed with an NCAC record of 9-7.

Helfant said that in order to beat the Big Red, the team needs to just remain calm and play the style of basketball they’ve played all year.

“The key for us is to play with confidence and believe we can win a championship,” Helfant said.