By Blake Moore
ADA — Senior guard Jenna Dirksen (Beavercreek/Carroll) provided the Ohio Northern women's basketball team with a late, go-ahead layup with moments remaining in overtime, lifting the Polar Bears to a 66-64 victory over in-state foe Ohio Wesleyan Saturday afternoon inside the ONU Sports Center in Ada.
Following a missed shot attempt from Battling Bishop guard/post player Claire Sterling, Northern would regain possession as the rebounded shot landed out of bounds with no player able to corrall the loose ball. Head coach Michele Durand would then utilize a timeout to move the ball to mid-court, setting up the final play. Dirksen would beat her defender off the dribble and toss in a layup from the left side to clinch the Polar Bears fourth consecutive victory to open the 2018-19 campaign.
With the tight-knit victory, Ohio Northern improves to 4-0 overall on the season. Meanwhile, the Battling Bishops fall to 2-2 on the campaign, having dropped their last two contests.
Dirksen would lead all scorers in the contest with a career-high 22 points on 44% shooting from the floor, including a three-for-seven clip from beyond the three-point arc. The senior would also chip in two rebounds, an assist, and a steal.
The Polar Bears would also see juniors Abby Weeks (West Chester/Mount Notre Dame) and Emily Mescher (Maria Stein/Marion Local) register double-digit efforts as the duo scored 12 and 10 points, respectively. The former tied her career-high point total and led the team with four assists, two blocks, and tied for the team lead in steals with two.
Meanwhile, senior Tori Wyss (Ada) impressed fans in attendance, hauling in a career-high 17 boards in the contest, the first double-digit rebounding effort in her career.
Ohio Northern trailed early and was forced to battle back in the contest as OWU sprinted out to a 10-4 edge in the first period. The Battling Bishops continued to challenge the home side with tight, full-court pressure in the frame, leading the visitors to an 18-12 advantage after 10 minutes.
In the second period, Ohio Wesleyan's Devin Hefner started the frame with a bucket, giving the Battling Bishops their largest lead Saturday afternoon at eight. Despite the early score, the visitors were unable to gain any momentum as ONU would cut the lead to four as the two teams headed for the locker rooms.
After the intermission, Mescher tossed in a layup and Dirksen knocked down a three-pointer two minutes into the period to give the Polar Bears their first lead at 26-25, their only lead in regulation. In all, there would be five lead changes and seven tied scores throughout the tight-knit battle.
Late in the fourth quarter, ONU trailed by two with six seconds remaining before Wyss was fouled and allotted a pair of critical free throws. The senior rattled home both attempts, sending the game to overtime after Sterling missed a potential game-winner for the away side.
ONU jumped out to a two-point edge after their first possession in the overtime stanza when Mescher nailed a short jumper. The lead would last until the clock hit 3:06 remaining when the Battling Bishops jumped out to a 63-62 lead.
The Polar Bears then received four straight points from Dirksen, including her game-winning layup, to capture the non-conference thriller.
Northern now breaks from action until Wednesday, November 28 when they are set to play at Case Wester Reserve. Game time is set for 5:30 p.m. inside Horsburgh Gymnasium in Cleveland, Ohio.