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Eagles' loss leaves a bittersweet taste
NCAA Division III Final Four: Mary Washington vs. DePauw

 With an early 7-0 run over DePauw in the first half, the Mary Washington fans at Springfield College cheered loudly.
REZA MARVASHTI/THE FREE LANCE-STAR
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Date published: 3/17/2007

By TODD JACOBSON

PHOTO GALLERY: See photos from the game

BY TODD JACOBSON

SPRINGFIELD, Mass.--Mary Washington senior forward Debbie Bruen wanted to be happy. She wanted to smile away the tears to acknowledge what has been a historic year for the Eagles--from the record 30-win season to the 26-game winning streak and an inaugural trip to the Division III women's basketball Final Four.

But the Division III women's basketball championship game will be played today, and the Eagles won't be in it.

That, Bruen said after Mary Washington's 67-61 loss to DePauw University yesterday at Springfield College's Blake Arena, stung most.

"It's kind of bittersweet," Bruen said. "You really are proud of your team, your teammates, everything you've done. You really can't be completely upset with your success. But at the same time, we're all very competitive. We want to be out there in the championship game tomorrow. That's not a good feeling at all."

How it happened couldn't have felt good, either.

The Eagles (30-3) committed 23 turnovers, squandered a 10-point first half lead, and couldn't rally late, in effect ending what had been a record year.

Mary Washington's season isn't quite over--it still will play in the consolation finals at 12:30 p.m. today against New York University (27-3)--but its dreams of a national title are.

DePauw (30-3) will play Washington University-St. Louis in the finals at 3 p.m.

Bruen and UMW center Liz Hickey led the Eagles with 14 points, while DePauw senior forward Liz Bondi scored a game-high 28 points on 11-of-17 shooting.

For much of the first half, Mary Washington looked like the team headed to the title game.

Bruen scored the game's first seven points, reserve guard Kaitie Clarkin knocked down two big three-pointers, and with 3:12 left in the first half, the Eagles took a 29-19 lead on a jumpshot by Liz Hickey.

But a season-long bugaboo took its toll.

If Mary Washington has had a weakness this season, it's been turnovers. The Eagles came into the game averaging 18.1 a game, and yesterday turnovers finally caught up to them.

They committed 15 of them in the first half, enough to allow DePauw to hang around, and the Tigers used a 16-2 run sandwiched around halftime to take a 35-33 less than four minutes into the second half.


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DePAUW 67 MARY WASHINGTON 61