By Blake Moore
ADA — The Ohio Northern women's basketball team dropped a tightly-contested, 61-54 affair in overtime to Ohio Athletic Conference foe Otterbein Wednesday evening inside the ONU Sports Center in Ada, Ohio.
With the loss, Ohio Northern moves to 10-6 overall and to 4-5 in the OAC following the first round-robin portion to the 2018-19 conference schedule. Meanwhile, the Cardinals improve their record to 9-7 overall and leap past Northern in the OAC standings with a 5-4 mark.
The defeat concludes a previous three-game win streak to open the 2019 calendar year for the Polar Bears.
Dirksen continued her impressive senior campaign with a 16-point outing during the midweek contest, shooting five-for-twelve from the floor, which included two three-point field goals and a perfect four-for-four effort from the charity stripe. The Beavercreek native would also add four rebounds, two assists, and a pair of steals in the conference showdown.
Wyss tied her season-high scoring total in Wednesday's contest, tallying 11 points on four-for-six shooting from the floor and a three-for-three effort from the free throw line. The hometown senior would additionally provide a team-high seven rebounds and contribute an assist in 32 minutes.
Otterbein received a big night from senior forward Dani Kissel, the Ohio Athletic Conference's leading scorer, who registered a game-high 23 points.
In the first period, Northern got out to a quick lead as senior guard Alyssa Manley (Lima/Bath) recorded a steal on Otterbein's opening possession and drilled a three-pointer on the subsequent play for a 3-0 edge. Moments later, Kissel sparked an 11-2 OU run at the 7:35 mark with a jumper inside the paint, which pushed the Cardinals to a 14-7 cushion heading into the second frame.
After exchanging baskets early in the second period, the Polar Bears opened up a 9-0 run with just over three minutes to play in the half. The scoring stretch would even give Ohio Northern a 20-18 edge at the 1:24 mark for their first lead since the opening minutes. The Cardinals would score the next five points, putting the visitors up 23-22 at the intermission.
The Polar Bears offense began to click early in the second half as the home side strung together a 12-0 run to start the third period. The run would last until the 5:41 mark when ONU claimed its largest lead Wednesday night with a 34-23 scoreline. However, Otterbein would not concede easily, rallying with a 9-0 stretch of their own to shrink the Northern lead to just one with 10 minutes remaining.
Trailing 50-47 late in the fourth period, Wyss knocked down a critical, long-range jump shot to cut the lead to one. One possession later, Dirksen drilled a three-pointer with 10 seconds remaining to put the Polar Bears back on top 52-50. Needing late-game heroics, Otterbein called upon their leading scorer, Dani Kissel, and she delivered a game-tying jumper with five seconds left in the contest to send the game to extra time.
In the overtime period, the two sides traded free throws to keep the game all knotted up at 54-54. The Cardinals would then rattle off seven consecutive points over the final two minutes, clinching the conference victory on the road.
The Polar Bears will return to action on Saturday, January 19 when they are slated for an Ohio Athletic Conference battle at Capital beginning at 3 p.m. Fans should be sure to check back at ONUSports.com for game updates and additional details should Winter Storm Harper develop as forecasted.