Women's Basketball advances to OAC Championship game after victory over third-seeded Cardinals

Women's Basketball advances to OAC Championship game after victory over third-seeded Cardinals

The Polar Bear women's basketball team defeated Otterbein 65-52 at home on Thursday night to advance to the Ohio Athletic Conference Tournament finals for the first time since the 1988-89 season.

With the win, Ohio Northern improves to 21-5 overall and advances to the OAC Tournament finals at top-seeded and seventh-ranked Mount Union on Saturday at 3 p.m.

The Cardinals end their season with a 20-7 record after falling to ONU for the third time this season.

Northern also reached the 21 win mark for just the second time in program history and the first time since the team finished 23-4 in 1987-88.

Junior Katie Mengos finished with 12 points, four assists and three bounds, while fellow junior Joanna Snyder totaled 12 points to lead ONU.

Sophomore Cenzie Yoder added 10 points, six rebounds and four assists, and senior Kara Dysert totaled eight points, 10 boards and four steals.

With the game tied at 7-all, Otterbein's Tabitha Piper scored six points during an 8-0 run as the Cardinals took a 15-7 lead at the 10:16 mark.

Four different Polar Bears scored during a 9-2 streak to cut the margin to 17-16 with 7:51 to play.

Otterbein continued to dominate down low, as the team outscored ONU 16-2 in the paint, also out-rebounding ONU 20-13 to take a 27-25 lead into the break.

Mengos hit a pair of three-pointers to start the second half to spark an 11-2 run, capped off by a trey from junior Morgan Dumbaugh.

The Cardinals erased the deficit with an 8-1 spurt, including four free throws from Kristi Kotterman, tying the game at 37-37 with 12:02 to play.

With the game tied at 44-all a few minutes later, Yoder and Snyder each scored four points during an 14-2 run in which Northern forced five turnovers as ONU jumped out to a 58-46 lead it never relented.

Yoder and Dysert each sank a pair of free throws to help ONU close out the 65-52 win.

"We came out a lot more aggressive in the second half," head coach Michele Durand said. "The team played a little flat in the first half, but definitely brought the energy to close the game."

Otterbein was led by Kotterman, who totaled 11 points and nine rebounds, and Shea McCoy, who scored a game-high 13 points.

Sophomore Taylor Hermiller was a perfect 3-for-3 from the field and 2-for-2 from three-point range to total eight points, while senior Megan Porter added seven points.

ONU moves on to face Mount Union, who defeated Capital 84-78 in its semifinal matchup. The Purple Raiders defeated Northern by scores of 85-71 and 72-68 in the regular season.

"We have to play a pretty much flawless game to beat Mount Union," Durand said. "They're a great team, so we'll have to defend, grab rebounds, and we can't afford to turn the ball over."