By Bud Denega
ADA — The Ohio Northern women's basketball team has made a habit of playing close games of late. That didn't change Saturday against Capital inside the ONU Sports Center.
The Polar Bears edged the Crusaders 55-52 to stretch their win streak to three games. The victory improved Northern to 13-4 on the season and 7-3 in Ohio Athletic Conference play, while the loss dropped Capital to 9-8 overall and 4-6 in conference action.
The Polar Bears trailed 43-40 entering the game's final quarter. ONU tallied eight straight points to begin the stanza, getting baskets from four different players — sophomore Kate Iliff (Lorain/Amherst Steele), seniors Abby Weeks (West Chester/Mount Notre Dame) and Emily Mescher and freshman Brynn Serbin (Pittsburgh, Pa./North Allegheny).
Caroline Taphorn connected on back-to-back buckets for the Crusaders to pull her team within one. ONU sophomore Jaidyn Hale (Lima/Bath) answered with a 3-pointer at the 4:36 mark, positioning the Polar Bears ahead 51-47. Weeks followed with two free throws and Hale split a pair before Northern earned one final stop to clinch the win.
Weeks paced ONU with 13 points on 5-for-7 shooting to go alongside her five rebounds. Mescher added 10 points, while junior Sydney Ward (Columbus/Upper Arlington) chipped in six points and four boards.
Capital's Emma Burns led all scorers, tallying 14 points.
The Polar Bears connected on 36.8 percent (21 of 57) of their field-goal attempts and 19 percent (4 of 21) from 3-point land. The Crusaders made 36.7 percent (18 of 49) of its shots from the field and 31.6 percent (6 of 19) from beyond the 3-point arc.
ONU did a good bit of damage in the paint, outscoring Capital 26-14. The Polar Bears' bench also out-played the Crusaders, besting them by a 22-8 margin.
Northern held a modest 14-12 advantage at the end of the first frame. The Crusaders outscored ONU 15-7 in the second quarter to take a 27-21 lead into the halftime break.
The Polar Bears remain home, playing host to Wilmington Wednesday. Northern downed the Quakers 72-64 Dec. 11 in Wilmington.