DePauw's perfect and impressive season rolled on Friday night with another blowout win.
The Tigers beat Washington University (St. Louis) 59-42 in the sweet 16 of the NCAA Division III women's tourney. Number one ranked DePauw won its record 31st consecutive game, and a record 17th this season in Neal Fieldhouse at the Lilly Center in Greencastle.
DePauw (31-0) earned the right to play at home in the first four games of the postseason, in front of 1,492 fans Friday night.
"What an atmosphere tonight at the Lilly Center," said DePauw coach Kris Huffman, two-time national coach of the year. "So thankful to the students and the community for coming out and making this place rock a little bit. It's such a good feeling knowing that the players have worked so hard and that their classmates are behind them 100 percent."
The Tigers quickly took control against Washington. Senior point guard Kate Walker, a graduate of Perry Meridian High School, scored 8 of her team-best 13 points in the first half. DePauw led by eight at the break. The Tigers opened the second half on a 10-2 run to blow the game open.
The two schools met early in the season, November 24, on a neutral court at the Illinois Wesleyan Tournament. DePauw won 60-59, the only game this season any opponent has come close to beating the Tigers. The Tigers have won every other game by double digits. DePauw wins by an average of 27 points a game.
"I think it's just been Coach Huffman pushing us so much and so hard this season, harder than any of my previous seasons," said Walker. "And the team has responded well. Instead of breaking down, we've gotten stronger."
The Tigers hit 10-of-24 three-pointers against Washington in the rematch. The lead grew to 23 points in the second half.
Washington (22-6) has won 62 NCAA Division III Tournament games, the most of any school. The Bears have also won five national titles. But this could be the year of the Tiger.
"No one remembers who is ranked number one," said DePauw junior Alex Gasaway from Crawfordsville. "We try to remind each other that the person who wins the national championship usually hasn't been ranked number one. We really don't want to be upset in that way. We try to remember that that's not our goal. Winning the national championship is."
DePauw hosts Christopher Newport University (Newport News, Virginia) Saturday at 7:00 p.m. The winner advances to the Final Four next weekend at Hope College in Holland, Michigan.
DePauw won its only national championship in 2007. The Tigers are playing in their 10th consecutive NCAA Division III Tournament.
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