By Bud Denega
ADA — The Ohio Northern women's basketball team inched closer to securing a first-round home game at the Ohio Athletic Conference Tournament Wednesday night inside the ONU Sports Center. The Polar Bears downed Otterbein 69-59 to snap their modest two-game losing streak.
The victory improved Northern to 16-6 overall and 10-5 in OAC play. The loss dropped the Otterbein to 11-11 overall and 6-9 in conference action.
With three regular-season games remaining, ONU needs one win or a loss by either Marietta or Capital to secure a top-four seed.
The Polar Bears appeared as though they were going to ease to their 16th win Wednesday night. They doubled up Otterbein 16-8 in the first quarter and extended that cushion to 40-25 at halftime.
ONU ballooned its lead to as many as 20, at 49-29, early in the third quarter before the Cardinals made a run. A 12-2 spurt made it a 51-41 game with just over a minute to play in the third period. Otterbein drew within eight, at 59-51, with 6:06 to play, but Northern's lead never shrunk below that.
The Polar Bears connected on 50 percent (26 of 52) of their field-goal attempts and 33.3 percent (6 of 18) of their 3-pointers. The Cardinals shot 39.6 percent (21 of 53) from the floor and 37.5 percent (6 of 16) from beyond the 3-point arc.
Seniors Jaclyn Yankle (Youngstown/Cardinal Mooney) and Abby Weeks (West Chester/Mount Notre Dame) poured in 14 points apiece. Sophomores Lexi Jacobs (Wapakoneta) and Alissa Stahler (Lima/Shawnee), chipped in nine and eight points, respectively.
Jenna Hoschouer paced Otterbein with 14 points.
Northern travels to John Carroll Saturday for a 3 p.m. tip. The Polar Bears downed the Blue Streaks 62-55 in Ada on Jan. 4 of this season.