By Madison Essinger
ADA - The Ohio Northern women's basketball program dropped a nail-biting, 56-54 Ohio Athletic Conference contest to the first-place John Carroll Blue Streaks Saturday afternoon inside the ONU Sports Center.
With the loss, Ohio Northern moves to 11-12 overall this season and 5-11 against the conference loop. Meanwhile, the Blue Streaks improve to 17-6 overall and to 13-3 in the Ohio Athletic Conference.
Senior guard Jenna Dirksen (Beavercreek/Carroll) recorded 15 points to top the ONU offense. She registered a 5-for-13 shooting effort from the floor and tallied four rebounds, four steals, and three assists in Saturday's affair.
Prior to Saturday's contest, Dirksen was honored for eclipsing the 1,000 career point mark in Wednesday night's game against Otterbein. She now has 1,024 points in her Ohio Northern career, ranking her 14th all-time in program history.
John Carroll was paced offensively by Kahrin Spear, who scored a team-high 15 points.
The Polar Bear offense quickly caught fire in the opening period, converting their first four shot attempts to open the contest. Northern rode the hot shooting stretch to build a nine point lead in the first quarter and maintained the a 17-10 advantage heading into the second frame.
However, John Carroll started the second quarter with a 9-2 run to draw even at 19-19 just four minutes into the period. The two sides would pull even once more in the period, but the Blue Streaks carried a 29-27 lead into the locker rooms.
After a back-and-forth third period, the two sides were deadlocked at 42-42 with 10 minutes remaining in regulation. JCU managed to build a seven-point edge midway through the period, and the Polar Bears responded with seven straight to bring things level once more at 54-54.
With the score tied, John Carroll called upon Nicole Heffington on its final possession, and she delivered the eventual game-winning layup with two seconds left in the contest.
Senior guard Alyssa Manley(Lima/Bath) had an opportunity to win the game with a long-range three-point attempt, but the shot rolled off the rim to give John Carroll the 56-54 victory.
The Polar Bears out-rebounded JCU 41-22 and forced 19 Blue Streak turnovers. Meanwhile, Northern committed 16 turnovers in the conference affair.
ONU ended the day shooting 19-of-51 from the field (37.3%) and made 5-of-17 three-pointers, a 29.4% shooting mark. JCU finished 19-of-50 from the floor (38%) and went 11-for-26 from beyond the arc (42.3%).
The ONU women's basketball program will return to action Wednesday, February 13 against Heidelberg in a pivotal OAC showdown with significant postseason implications. Wednesday night's affair will also serve as the program's annual Senior Night. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. at the ONU Sports Center.