By Caleb Scott
ADA — The No. 5-ranked Ohio Northern women's basketball team claimed the Ohio Athletic Conference Tournament title and earned an automatic bid to the NCAA III Tournament with a 70-55 victory over Wilmington on Saturday afternoon at the ONU Sports Center.
The Polar Bears remain perfect on the season and improve to 27-0 with the victory.
With the victory, the 2016-17 Polar Bears now own the longest winning streak in school history at 27 games.
Junior Courtney Cramer (Arcadia) was named Tournament MVP after she scored a game-high and career-high 18 points and added six rebounds to lead the Polar Bears.
Junior Amy Bullimore (Morrow/Little Miami) was also named to the All-Tournament team for her efforts as she scored seven points and pulled down a game-high seven rebounds.
Junior Lindsey Black (Urbana/Graham) chipped in 13 points for the Polar Bears.
Northern opened the contest with five quick points after sophomore Jenna Dirksen (Beavercreak/Carroll) hit a jumper and Cramer followed with a 3-pointer.
Wilmington would hit a three pointer before the Polar Bears used an 8-4 run to take a 13-7 lead into the second quarter.
Cramer would pick up where she left off in the second quarter as she opened the period with an and-1 and sunk the ensuing free throw to give ONU a 16-9 lead with 9:36 remaining in the half.
The Polar Bears would see their lead grow to as many as 17 points in the second quarter as junior Cheyenne Raker (Columbus/Westerville South) sunk a pair of free throws to push the lead to 30-13 with 1:41 remaining in the first half.
Wilmington was able to climb within eight points in the third quarter before Northern extended the lead to 47-33 heading into the final period.
The Quakers would begin chipping away at the ONU lead in the fourth quarter as they used a 16-3 run to pull within 55-51 with 2:55 remaining in the contest.
From there, Northern would ice the game as they hit 11-of-12 free throws down the stretch, including a 6-for-6 effort from Black to ice the game and help ONU claim the OAC Tournament title.
"This is a really great feeling for our team," said head coach Michele Durand. "Wilmington came ready to play and we expected that. They are a really good team and they gave a great effort. They were able to shut down our offense, but Courtney really stepped up for us. She deserves the Tournament MVP. Lindsey had one of her best games as a Polar Bear and I'm really proud of the way this team responded tonight."
The Polar Bears were 20-of-57 (35.1 percent) from the field, and hit 27-of-31 (87.1 percent) free throws.
Northern won the rebounding battle by a 43-33 margin.
The Polar Bears will await the NCAA Selection Show to find out there fate in the NCAA III Tournament.