By: Jay Garneau
ADA — Behind senior Kara Dysert's first double-double of the season, the Ohio Northern women's basketball team defeated Saint Mary's (Ind.), 68-64, in the opening game of the 2011 Thanksgiving Classic at the ONU Sports Center on Saturday evening.
The Polar Bears improve to 4-1 overall after the nonconference victory, while the Belles fall to 2-3 overall.
Dysert recorded 17 points and 12 rebounds for her 11th career double-double to lead ONU.
Junior Morgan Dumbaugh led the Polar Bears in scoring with 18 points, 14 of which came in the second half.
Ohio Northern never trailed in the game, but withstood several comeback attempts from the Belles, including one in the waning minutes.
With the Polar Bears leading 66-58 with 1:51 left in the game, Patsy Mahoney and Maggie Ronan hit back-to-back three-pointers to cut the lead to 66-64 with 35 seconds remaining.
After ONU missed two free throws, Saint Mary's drew a foul and had a chance to tie the game. In a one-and-one situation, the Belles missed a free throw, ONU grabbed the board, and Dumbaugh hit a pair of free throws to seal the victory.
"Saint Mary's is a good team, but we were able to pull it out at the end," said head coach Michele Durand. "We're happy to come out of there with a win today."
Northern jumped out to a quick 14-4 lead in the first half, but Saint Mary's answered with a 9-0 run to cut it to 14-13 at the 10:22 mark.
Later in the half, freshman Jordan Kimes connected on three consecutive layups to extend ONU's lead to 26-17 with 5:02 left.
The Belles continued to battle, cutting the deficit to 28-27 heading into the break.
Three-pointers in the opening minute from juniors Katie Mengos and Joanna Snyder increased the lead to 34-27.
The teams traded buckets for much of the half, until Dumbaugh scored six points during a 13-5 ONU run, which pushed the margin to 62-47 with 6:41 left to give Northern the biggest lead of the game.
Saint Mary's went on a 9-0 run, cutting the deficit to 62-56 with 3:27 to play.
Mengos and Dumbaugh each scored two points to thwart the Saint Mary's run, before the final comeback effort fell short for the Belles.
ONU was better from the field, shooting 27-of-53 (50.9 percent) compared to 25-of-60 (41.7 percent) for the Belles.
Saint Mary's did have the edge from behind the arc, shooting 6-of-11 (54.5 percent) from three-point range, better than ONU's 3-of-12 (25 percent).
Both the rebounding (34-33 ONU) and turnover battles (17-16 Saint Mary's) were close throughout the game.
Mahoney scored a game-high 20 points, while Kelley Murphy recorded 16 points and eight rebounds in the Belles' effort.
Yoder also scored in double digits (10 points) for ONU, while Snyder had a solid all-around game with five points, seven assists, four rebounds and a pair of blocks.
Northern will host Ohio Wesleyan in the final game of the Thanksgiving Classic on Sunday at 3 p.m. at the ONU Sports Center.