HOLLAND, Mich. -- Claire Baecher, Danny Rainer and the Wiliams College women's basketball team threw everything they had at the nation's top-ranked team, hoping to play spoiler.
Unbeaten and top-ranked DePauw refused to crack under the pressure.
DePauw led the final 12 minutes, 10 seconds to hold on for a 59-56 NCAA Division III semifinal win at Hope College on Friday.
It was the first final four appearance for the No. 16-ranked Ephs (25-7).
"I'm incredibly proud of my team," Williams coach Pat Manning said. "This is our first time on a stage like this. You never know how a team is going to respond. Our team just responded the way [it] did all year. They played for each other."
The Ephs played in front of the largest crowd of the season -- a DeVos Fieldhouse gathering of 1,243 that was heavily pulling for the Tigers, who are located about a five-hour drive away.
Baecher and Rainer -- two seniors -- led the fearless attack, Manning said.
"They never panic. They never get rattled. They play because they love to play, and it carries over," Manning said. "We haven't played in arena like this before. We haven't played in front of a crowd like this. They were amazing."
Williams held an eight-point lead on the unbeaten Tigers after Kellie Macdonald's jumper put the Ephs ahead 25-17 with 2:54 remaining in the first half.
But with Baecher, an All-American, sitting on the bench with two fouls, DePauw
The score was tied six times during the first seven minutes of the second half before DePauw (33-0) took the lead for good and marched into Saturday's title game.
"Credit to Williams' defensive ability to change our comfort on the offensive end. Their length really was a factor," DePauw coach Kris Huffman said. "I was really proud of how our team finished the first half with a run and made some runs in the second half."
Cook, a sophomore, topped Williams with 12 points eight rebounds and four assists. Senior guard Jennie Harding added 11 points, while Rainer had 10 points, five rebounds, four blocks and three assists.
"The younger players did a nice job stepping up," Rainer said, referring to Cook and sophomore Kellie MacDonald. "We hope they can use this experience and bring it with them the next two seasons."
Whitewater stunned Williams' New England Small College Athletic Conference rival, Amherst College, in Friday's first semifinal -- using buzzer beaters at the end of the second half and overtime to win 64-62.
Williams and Amherst will meet for the fourth time this season at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday. Williams is 1-2 against Amherst this season, but handed the Jeffs their only regular-season loss.