No. 5 Women's Basketball tops No. 22 Mount Union 71-53 for outright OAC Regular Season Championship

No. 5 Women's Basketball tops No. 22 Mount Union 71-53 for outright OAC Regular Season Championship

By: Andrew Korba

ALLIANCE -- The No. 5 Ohio Northern women's basketball team picked up a 71-53 victory over No. 22 Mount Union, for the outright OAC regular season championship on Saturday afternoon at the MAAC.

The Polar Bears, who never trailed in the game, improve to 22-1 on the season and remain perfect in the OAC with a 16-0 mark. The Purple Raiders fall to 18-5, 12-4.

The title is the first for Ohio Northern since the 1987-88 season.

The win also extends the Polar Bears winning streak to a school record 21 games.

The Polar Bears also clinched the top seed in the OAC Tournament, which begins on February 18.

"I am extremely excited and so proud of our girls," said head coach Michele Durand. "This has been our goal all season and it is amazing to achieve it."

Junior Cenzie Yoder led the way for Northern with 17 points.

The Polar Bear bench scored a season high 34 points on the afternoon.

Senior Marissa Clark scored a career high 11 points, freshman Brooke Espenschied added 10 and a team high six rebounds, sophomore Jordan Kimes scored seven and junior Sara Kocian added six.

"Our bench was huge tonight," said Durand. "We had a few players get into foul trouble and everyone stepped right in to fill the role."

ONU came out strong and built an early 12-4 lead, capped off by a jumper from senior Joanna Snyder.

The Polar Bears would push their lead to 19-10 with 11:46 left in the first half, on a three pointer from Clark.

But Mount Union came back with an 8-2 run to cut the Northern lead to 21-18 with just over nine minutes left in the half.

Northern would use a 13-4 run in the final 4:55 of the first half to take a 40-28 lead into the break.

ONU started off the second half strong, using a 9-2 run to open up a 51-34 lead with 13:35 left in the game.

A 7-2 spurt from the Purple Raiders cut the ONU lead to 57-45, but the Polar Bears responded with a free throw from Yoder and a jump shot from senior Morgan Dumbaugh to push the lead back to 60-45 with 5:34 left.

The Purple Raiders would try to mount a comeback, but Northern was 8-of-10 from the free throw in the final five minutes to put the game away.

"We did a good job defensively," Durand added. "Mount Union is quick and a tough team to guard, but we were able to contest a lot of shots."

Northern was a solid 27-of-51 (52.9 percent) from the field, while Mount Union was 20-of-54 (37.0 percent).

ONU won the rebounding battle 34-30 and scored 13 points off of Purple Raider turnovers.

Ohio Northern will be in action again when it travels to face off against Wilmington on Wednesday at 7:30 pm.