Senior Lauren Abendroth stepped off the court after her last regular season game on Saturday afternoon—the high scorer for DePauw in her last game at Neal Fieldhouse. The first time she stepped on a collegiate basketball court was four years ago, against Illinois Wesleyan.
“I was so nervous,” Abendroth remembered. “The game was close and these girls were good.”
After subbing in, a senior player passed Abendroth the ball. “It hit me right in the face,” she said. “It bounced right off my nose into my hands, where I proceeded to catch the ball, shoot it and make it.”
And so Lauren Abendroth scored her first basket as a DePauw Tiger.
When those four freshman first found DePauw Basketball, no one knew they’d be one of the most decorated classes in DePauw athletic history—winning a National Championship while currently having the best record of any DIII senior class, multiple All-NCAC awards, a 95-game win streak in home conference games and losing only five games in four years.
“The key to our success was definitely our teammates throughout the years,” said Savannah Trees. Trees is currently number two on DePauw’s all-time scoring list and is extremely close to passing the current leader, Amy Argetsinger (2001-2005).
“I think one of the keys to our class' success is our work ethic,” said Emma Ondik. “Each and every one of us came to practice every day ready to work hard and get better.”
Abendroth agreed with both of her teammates.
“Team chemistry and hard work ethic have definitely been qualities that have led to our success. We just click together out on the floor and know what it takes to be the best. Coach pushes us hard but we have always been willing to rise to the challenge,” said Abendroth.
The women’s basketball program is currently, without a doubt, the most successful athletic program DePauw has, but that’s not the only reason DePauw attracted these talented players.
“I knew how great of a basketball program DePauw had and I had a great first impression of Coach Huffman," said Trees. "I just knew it was going to be a great fit."
Abendroth connected with the culture of DePauw Basketball and the school itself.
“I fell in love with the players and the coaching staff on my visit," said Abendroth. "Deciding to come to DePauw was a big risk for me since I wasn't too sold on the whole "Greencastle" idea. However, it's been the best decision I've made so far in my life. It was the perfect mix of a great basketball program and outstanding academic program, which was exactly what I was looking for."
For Hannah Lukemeyer, DePauw was in the plans no matter what—basketball not as concretely.
“I first started looking at DePauw for academic reasons,” said Lukemeyer. “I am from Bloomington, so I knew I wanted to be close to home, but I didn't want to go to a big school like IU. My dad really encouraged me to think about playing here, and I am so glad he did. I have been a part of a team all my life and I knew I would miss that feeling in college so I decided to join the team.”
After freshman year and a second round loss in the NCAA tournament, the Class of 2015 came back for their sophomore year. DePauw is home to many “retired athletes,” so the ability to stick through another year is impressive in the first place.
“Playing basketball was a huge time commitment,” said Ondik. “There were many days I didn't feel like going to practice or going to a workout. My teammates definitely helped me get through it just by being by my side and reminding me that it is all worth it.”
What took place in the season of 2012-2013 was perfection: 34-0, conference champions, a perfect run in the NCAA tournament that all led to a national title—DePauw was number one.
“Amazing. Unreal. Absurd. Legit. Blissful. Staggering. Breathtaking. Fun. Cool. This list could go on and on, but it's so hard to put into words. It was one of the things where everything just seemed to click at the right time," said Abendroth. "The NCAA tourney run we made was unreal, and playing all the games leading up to the final four at Lilly truly made it special."
Trees summed up her feelings a different way: “Nothing will ever compare.”
All the hard work, one of the Class of 2015’s best characteristics, had paid off.
“It is so rewarding to see months and years of work pay off,” said Lukemeyer.
For their junior year, a new member joined—Hannah Douglas, who had spent her first two years playing DI basketball at Butler University.
“These were the two best years of basketball I have ever experienced,” Douglas said. “It has been an absolute honor to play under Coach Huffman. The girls on the team have turned into my best friends and are just genuinely fantastic people. I am so happy I had the chance to come play here, it has been a blessing."
Their junior season ended with a loss to Wisconsin-Whitewater in the sectional finals of the NCAA tournament, but in the beginning of this season they returned the favor, beating them 63-54.
Now that their senior regular season is officially over, the seniors are starting to become sentimental.
“It's hard to pick just one favorite basketball moment at DePauw because there are so many," said Ondik. "My favorite thing about my experience playing basketball at DePauw is definitely the friendships I have made. The girls I have met will be lifelong friends and the memories we share together are some that I will never forget."
Ondik wasn’t as indecisive when it came to what she’ll miss the most though.
“I am going to miss competing. Every day in practice is competitive and every time we step onto the court to face another opponent we are competing hard. It will be impossible to replicate the competitive nature that my team has and I am going to miss that very much,” said Ondik.
So heading into the NCAC tournament, currently ranked number seven in the country, the Class of 2015 is ready for one more NCAA run—with plenty of experience on their side. But no matter the outcome of the next couple of weeks, nothing will change how these women feel about DePauw basketball.
“I wouldn't trade my experience for anything,” said Trees.