By Cort Reynolds
Ada Herald Writer
ADA - Morgan Dumbaugh holds the unique distinction of being the all-time leading women's scorer at both of her alma maters - Ada High School and Ohio Northern University.
Dumbaugh capped her college career recently by leading ONU to a sparkling 27-2 record and their best campaign in a quarter century. She led the Lady Polar Bears to the Ohio Athletic Conference crown with a perfect 18-0 mark, and to the league tournament title as well as a second round showing in the NCAA Div. III tournament.
It was probably the best campaign in Lady Bear annals, at least since the 1987-88 season, when Northern finished 23-4 and last won the OAC title with a 15-1 mark. That was also the last time ONU competed in the NCAA Div. III tournament.
Dumbaugh set the Lady Bear program career scoring record in what turned out to be her final game, a second round 63-48 loss at second-ranked Hope College on their Michigan home floor.
"I knew I was close to the record going into that game, but I tried not to think or talk about it," said Dumbaugh. "I kept telling my dad (her Ada High coach Neal) if it happens, it was meant to be. Coach Campoli talked to our team before we left for the tournament, and he told us to play hard and play together. So I was focused more on doing those things and trying to win.
"I'd rather take our great season and the journey over the points record," she continued. "The season is something I will never forget. It is cool that the record happened to go out on in my senior year. We surpassed even my pre-season thoughts."
ONU received a tough break when they were forced to play away from home despite being ranked third in the nation and riding a school-record 26-game win streak. The Sports Center had already been reserved to host the Div. III wrestling regionals far in advance of the spectacular Lady Bear cage season.
As a result Northern had to play on Hope's home floor, a place where the hosts have lost only three times in eight seasons. The cold-shooting Lady Bears fell behind by 10 at the half and couldn't rally as they fell by 15 before a partisan crowd of 1,955 at the DeVos Fieldhouse.
Hope was eliminated in the elite eight by eventual runner-up Wisconsin-Whitewater, which lost to top-ranked DePauw 69-51 in the championship contest at DeVos March 16. It was the second consecutive Div. III national title title for DePauw (In.).
Dumbaugh broke the career scoring mark of former Lima Perry product Alisha Rinehart, who played at ONU from 2006-09, by canning a three-point goal with 4:01 left in the first half vs. Hope. She ended up with a team-high 16 markers in the game and finished with 1,242 total points to surpass Rinehart's mark by 14.
"Because we were so balanced as a team it was tough for our opponents to guard everyone, which also allowed Morgan to score," explained coach Michelle Durand. "I know Morgan is proud of the record, but what I love most about her is the fact that she would have rather won the last game vs. Hope than get the record. That tells you what kind of player and person Morgan is."
In the season-ending defeat, the versatile 5-9 guard-forward also paced ONU with nine rebounds.
"It was kind of a heartbreaker; I feel if it was on a neutral floor it would have been different," said the senior of playing at Hope in the tourney. "But it is what it is. It was a huge advantage for them to play at their place with the size of their home crowd."
Dumbaugh achieved the main team and individual goals she had in mind when she enrolled at ONU after also considering playing at Findlay. "I wanted to win the league title and make first team All-Ohio Athletic Conference, and I accomplished both things my senior year," she said. "I didn't think we would go undefeated, though."
ONU rolled through the league with an unblemished 18-0 regular season mark, then stampeded through the OAC tourney to capture that title easily as well, winning its two games by 23 and 27 points.
In fact, the Lady Bears so dominated the league that they won every game by at least 11 points and by an average margin of 17.4 points per contest. "A few teams stayed with us for a half, but our depth really helped us," said Dumbaugh. "We were a really good second half team."
Morgan noted that were some key differences between this year's team and recent Lady Bear squads that came close but couldn't quite get over the hump. "The biggest difference was probably that we had more experience. A lot of the returning players came in together as freshmen and sophomores.
"Last year we finished second in the OAC (21-6, 14-4 OAC) and just missed an NCAA bid. (Her sophomore season, they were 17-10 and 11-7 in the league).
"This year we did a really good job of taking things one game at a time and not looking ahead," she continued. "We were more balanced and had more offensive threats coming off the bench. We definitely had more weapons. And the people who didn't play much were really supportive and cheered us on from the bench."
As for herself, she notes that over her four years at ONU, her biggest improvement came on defense. "My defense got a little better this season," she said. "Each year I just gained more and more experience."
Durand noted that Dumbaugh put in a lot of hours to achieve her goals.
"As far as Morgan's ability goes, I think she is very tough to guard because she can score in a lot of ways," said the coach. "She is a very good three-point shooter, she can take smaller players inside and she is one of the best I have seen at shooting off the dribble.
"I think Morgan has really improved over the last four years because she has a good work ethic. I know over the summer she was in the gym all the time trying to improve her game," she added.
The senior health and physical education major plans to finish her school work this semester, then student-teach at Allen East this coming fall. She will then apply for teaching and coaching jobs, following in her dad's footsteps.
"I wouldn't mind to go south for a year or so, but I would like to stay in Ohio long term," she said.
The powerfully-built Dumbaugh was a model of consistency and durability over her career. She only missed one game in four seasons, playing in 109 of a possible 110 contests, of which ONU won 81. Her career points per game mark was not eye-popping at 11.9, but three of those years her consistent averages all fell between 11.4 and 12.4 ppg in the balanced Bear attack.
Over her four seasons, Northern steadily improved from 16 wins as a freshman, to 17 as a sophomore, to 21 her junior campaign and finally topping out at 27 her senior year.
"It's neat to be able to tell my kids in 10 or more years that I played on one of the greatest ONU teams ever," she noted.
Northern beat Hanover 86-68 in the NCAA first round to post the program's first tournament win in a quarter century as Dumbaugh poured in 22 points. The 27 wins also set a school single-season mark.
"The success our team had this year was a credit to Morgan and our other seniors," said Durand. "They all worked very hard to achieve their goals. They were good leaders and very unselfish, Morgan included."
Career and season Dumbaugh stats (perhaps in a screened box)
Career ONU averages: 109 games/86 starts, 1,242 points, 11.4 points per game, 82% FT, 41% FG, 37% 3-pters, 1.6 assists per game, 4 rebounds per game.
Year by Year
Dumbaugh 29 games/29 starts, 42.6 FG%, 33.1 3-pt%, 83.1 FT%, 11.9 points per game, 4.7 rebounds per game, 1.6 assists per game, 346 points, 1st team All-OAC
Dumbaugh 27 games/25 starts, 45.8 FG%, 39.5 3-pt%, 79.2 FT%, 12.4 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 1.8 apg, 336 points, 2nd team All-OAC
Dumbaugh 26 games/9 starts, 37.1% FG, 36.6 3-pt%, 83% FT, 2.8 rebs, 1.5 apg, 8.2 ppg, 237 points
Dumbaugh 27 games/23 starts, 12.0 ppg (2nd), 4.0 rebs, 1.7 apg, 83% FT, 38% FG, 38% 3's, 323 points, OAC All-Tournament team