By: Andrew Korba
HOLLAND (Mich.) -- Junior Taylor Hermiller scored a career high 13 points to lead the No. 3 Ohio Northern women's basketball team to a 86-68 victory over Hanover (Ind.) in the first round of the NCAA III Tournament on Friday evening at DeVos Fieldhouse.
The Polar Bears improve to 27-1 on the season, while the Panthers conclude their season at 21-8.
ONU will advance to play No. 2 Hope (Mich.) at 6:30 pm on Saturday.
Four Northern players finished in double figures, led by senior Morgan Dumbaugh who had a game high 22 points.
After Hanover scored the first basket of the game, Northern ran off eight straight points to open up an early 8-2 lead.
The Panthers would use a 7-2 run to cut the Polar Bears lead to 18-15 with 8:38 left in the first half.
Three pointers on two straight possessions from Dumbaugh and sophomore Jordan Kimes expanded ONU's lead to 24-17 with 7:27 remaining in the first period.
Layups by Kimes and freshman Brooke Espenschied in the final minute of the first half allowed the Polar Bears to take a 38-32 lead into the break.
"We had some trouble breaking Hanover's press in the first half," said head coach Michele Durand. "We were able to come out in the second half and overcome it. I am very pleased with the victory."
The Panthers came out of the half and used a 6-2 spurt to cut the ONU lead to 40-38.
But Northern countered with a 14-3 run, with six points from Hermiller, to open up a 52-39 lead with 15:34 left to play.
A three pointer from Espenschied at the 11:24 mark of the second half gave the Polar Bears a 63-47 advantage.
The Panthers battled back and cut the Polar Bear lead to 69-59 with 6:34 left in the game.
But three pointers on back-to-back possessions from senior Katie Mengos and Hermiller pushed the Northern lead back to 75-59.
Hanover would get no closer the rest of the game.
Northern shot 30-of-60 (50.0 percent) from the field, while Hanover was 24-of-57 (42.1 percent).
The Polar Bears held a 43-25 advantage in rebounding, including a 14-6 advantage on the offensive glass.
"We will look to play a little more relaxed tomorrow," Durand added. "No matter who we play, I know this team will step up and bring it."