Washington's height could challenge Tigers


A week ago, it was DePauw who looked down on two NCAA opponents when fighting for rebounds.
Tonight, it just may be the other way around.
The tallest player for the DePauw women's basketball team to play considerable minutes is senior Ellie Pearson, who is listed at 5-foot-10. For Washington University in St. Louis, three starters tower at or above six feet tall, and that will be the focus for the Tigers in the NCAA Division III tournament round of 16 in the Neal Fieldhouse.
DePauw is ranked No. 2 in the Division III ranking in rebounding margin at +13.4. In the first two rounds of the tournament against La Roche College and Maryville College, the Tigers out rebounded both opponents by 22 on each occasion.
Head coach Kris Huffman voiced a slight concern with the length of the Bears in the paint, and for good reason. Washington - ranked No. 4 in rebounding margin (+12.7) - has pulled down 518 offensive boards on the season. Comparatively, DePauw has tallied 508.
Knowing that, Huffman has her team focused on eliminating those second chance opportunities.
"They are an unbelievable team especially in offensive rebounds," junior guard Ali Ross said. "They have some big guards, and so it will be key for us to block out in this game. We also know from experience that they are a great transition team." 
Back on Nov. 24, the Tigers downed Washington by one point in a game that DePauw outrebounded the Bears by two (36-34), and held the edge in points off turnovers, 19-8.
What kept the game close was Washington's advantage in points in the paint - 32-16. Sophomores Melissa Gilkey and Maddy Scheppers both scored in double figures in the effort. Gilkey, a 6'1" forward from Woodinville, Wash., is the Bear's prime scoring threat, averaging 15.4 points per game.
Scheppers, a 5'10" guard  from Bossier City, La., is the third leading scorer with 8.4, but she also crashes the boards and averages 5.9 per contest.
In total, Washington head coach Nancy Fahey starts just one senior - Nishi Tavernier of La Bronx, N.Y. - and instead starts three sophomores and a junior.
Despite the youth, Washington sports a 22-5 overall record, and posted a 10-4 record in the University Athletic Association. That conference sent two other institutions to the NCAA tournament: University of Rochester and Emory University.
"They play in one of the toughest conferences in the nation, they're going through that grind every game so that has to help in their preparations," Huffman said. "We've done that through practice and in our conference schedule and non-conference schedule. Hopefully we'll be prepared for those crucial possessions late in the game."
Washington head coach Nancy Fahey understands that both teams have changed a lot since they last played in November. She said the strength of the DePauw team is shown through its perfect 30-0 record.
"DePauw plays some incredible defense, and we need to make sure to handle the ball and execute ourselves offensively," Fahey said.
Tipoff is slatted for 7 p.m. in the Neal Fieldhouse. In the past seven matchups, DePauw has held the advantage, 5-2. When the teams have met in the NCAA tournament, the Tigers have come out ahead on both occasions: once in the national championship game in 2007, and in the second round in 2008.
At home, however, DePauw is just 1-9 all time against Washington with the only win coming from the 2008 NCAA win.
"We're going to have to attack their defense," Ross said. "They played zone defense in the second half of that first game, and we've been working on that all week. We have to be aggressive no matter what they show us."