By Blake Moore
ADA — The Ohio Northern women's basketball program kicked off the 2019 calendar year in winning fashion Saturday afternoon, toppling Ohio Athletic Conference foe Muskingum 74-52 inside the ONU Sports Center in Ada.
With the victory, the Polar Bears improve to 8-5 overall and move to 2-4 against the conference circuit. Meanwhile, the Muskies fall to 1-12 overall, which includes an 0-6 mark in league play.
Sophomore guard Emily Brock (Akron/Revere) registered a team-high 14 points in the victory to lead three scorers in double-figures and tie her career-high scoring mark for a single outing. She would knock down four three-point field goals in the contest on a five-for-nine effort overall from the floor to go along with two rebounds and a steal.
Meanwhile, senior guard Jenna Dirksen (Beavercreek/Carroll) and junior center Emily Mescher (Maria Stein/Marion Local) contributed 12 and 10 points, respectively, to the Polar Bear victory. Dirksen finished the day five-for-eight overall, including a perfect two-for-two effort from downtown, while hauling in four rebounds and dishing out three assists. Mescher would provide her double-digit day off the bench, adding four boards, three assists, and a steal.
Junior guard Abby Weeks (West Chester/Mount Notre Dame) would lead Northern in rebounding Saturday afternoon, wrangling in seven boards during the conference affair. She would also post nine points on three-of-six shooting, two assists, and record a blocked shot.
The Polar Bears got off to a slow start offensively during the opening period, shooting just 28% from the court through the first 10 minutes. Despite the offensive struggles, Northern managed to keep the contest close, staying within six points throughout the entire frame.
Trailing 15-11 after the opening stanza, ONU would battle back with a momentum-shifting, 16-2 run during the second period. The offensive spark was ignited via a Tori Wyss (Ada) jump shot at the 7:48 mark and spanned the next four minutes in the contest. The Polar Bear run was capped with a Lexi Jacobs three-pointer (Wapakoneta) to make the lead 30-22, propelling the home side to a 34-30 lead at the intermission.
Ohio Northern saw continued success in the second half to capitalize on the halftime advantage and extend their lead. After exchanging blows early in the half, ONU opened up a 7-0 run with a Dirksen trifecta at the 6:37 mark in the third period, catapulting Northern to an 11-point lead midway through the frame. Following a media timeout moments later, Brock would rattle home a three-pointer and send the Orange and Black on a 9-2 run that pushed the lead to 14 to end the period.
The Polar Bears would cap the conference victory shooting an efficient six-for-ten from the floor in the final ten minutes, helping guide them to a 45% shooting clip overall on Saturday afternoon. With the fourth-quarter effort, Northern outscored the visitors 20-12 over the final 10 minutes, capping the game with a Jacobs jump shot to secure their largest lead during the contest (22).
In the contest, Ohio Northern finished 26-for-58 overall, which included a rousing 10-for-20 performance from beyond the arc. Meanwhile, the Muskies ended the affair shooting just 27% on 18-of-66 shooting despite hitting seven three-pointers.
The Polar Bears will return to action next Wednesday, January 9 when they host the 20th-ranked Baldwin Wallace Yellow Jackets. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. inside the ONU Sports Center in Ada.