Polar Bears win OAC, receive automatic NCAA bid
Monday, February 25, 2013 4:34 AM
ADA - The No. 3 Ohio Northern women's basketball team captured the OAC Tournament Championship by a 73-46 score over Otterbein on Saturday night at the ONU Sports Center.The Polar Bears improve to 26-1 on the season, while Cardinals fall to 21-6.
Northern has now won a school record 25 games in a row and its last 17 games by at least 11 points.
The OAC Tournament Championship is the first for ONU since the 1987-88 season.
The Polar Bears also will receive an automatic bid to the NCAA III Tournament, which will air on Monday at 2:30 pm.
Junior Cenzie Yoder was named to the OAC All-Tournament Team and senior Joanna Snyder was named MVP of the OAC Tournament.
Snyder finished the game with a game high 15 points and five rebounds.
Yoder added 12 points and five rebounds, while freshman Brooke Espenschied added 10 points off the bench.
The Polar Bears came out shooting hot and built an early 18-8 lead, capped off by a jumper from sophomore Jordan Kimes.
A free throw from junior Taylor Hermiller capped off a 13-3 run and pushed the Northern lead to 31-16 with 7:06 left in the first half.
"I thought we came out ready to go," Durand added. "We shot the ball well and were able to set the tone for the evening."
The Cardinals would chip away and ONU took a 39-29 lead into the half.
The Polar Bears opened up the second half on a 12-0 run to extend their lead to 51-29 with 16:37 remaining.
Snyder scored six points during the run, while Hermiller and senior Morgan Dumbaugh each added three points.
"Our motto all year has been to put the game away in the first four minutes of the second half," Durand said. "We did just that. Our defense was outstanding all night. Holding Otterbein to 46 points is not easy."
The Polar Bears used a 16-2 run, capped off by a layup from Espenschied, to open up their largest lead of the game at 67-37 with 4:01 remaining.
Northern was 29-of-59 from the field (49.2 percent), while the Cardinals were 17-of-50 (34.0 percent).
The Polar Bears won the rebounding battle by a 35-29 margin. The ONU bench also outscored Otterbein's 30-9.
"I am extremely proud of these girls," Durand said. "Our goal all season was to win both the regular season title and the tournament championship. To be able to reach that goal is an amazing accomplishment."