By: Andrew Korba
UNIVERSITY HEIGHTS -- Junior Jordan Kimes scored 30 points and senior Cenzie Yoder set the single season and program record for assists, to lead the No. 21 Ohio Northern women's basketball team past No. 18 John Carroll 80-71 in the OAC Tournament Semifinals on Thursday evening.
The third seeded Polar Bears push their record to 23-4 on the season, while second seed John Carroll falls to 21-4.
Northern will now play fourth seed Capital on Saturday at 3 pm at the ONU Sports Center in the OAC Tournament Championship.
The Polar Bears swept the season series with Capital.
Kimes went 13-of-16 from the field and also pulled down 12 rebounds for her 11th double-double of the season and her career.
Yoder finished with 15 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists.
Yoder now has 93 assists on the season, breaking the previous record of 91.
She also has 312 career assists, surpassing the school record of 311.
"I thought we did a nice job down low all night," said head coach Michele Durand. "When they made their run, we just needed to get some confidence back. We were able to weather it and grab the win."
JCU went on a 16-4 run midway through the second half and two free throws from Missy Spahar of John Carroll made the score 70-65 with 2:22 left to play.
Junior Kaitlyn Theisen would drain a 3-pointer, but the Blue Streaks would respond with a three of their own.
A layup from Thomas with 1:28 remaining pushed Northern's lead back to 75-68 with 1:46 left to play.
ONU would miss two free throws and a 3-pointer by JCU's Emily Taylor cut the lead to 75-71.
But the Polar Bears executed a break on the press and a wide open layup by Kimes with 39 seconds left put the Polar Bears back up 77-71.
Two free throws from senior Taylor Hermiller made it 79-71 in favor of the Polar Bears with 32 seconds remaining, putting the game away.
The Polar Bears came out strong and built an early 12-7, with Kimes and Yoder each scoring six points.
JCU would jump in front 18-17, but Northern responded with four quick points, capped off by a Yoder layup to open up a 21-18 lead, with 7:55 left in the first half.
ONU would finish the half scoring the final five points, with sophomore Carly Thomas draining a 3-pointer at the horn, to take a 36-28 lead into halftime.
Thomas would finish the game with 11 points and five assists.
3-pointers from senior Sara Kocian and Kimes allowed the Polar Bears to open up a 44-33 lead in the early stages of the second half.
Another make from beyond the arc by Kimes pushed the Northern lead to 55-40 with 11:46 to go.
The Polar Bears finished a sizzling 32-of-56 (57.1 percent) from the field and 5-of-11 (45.5 percent) in 3-pointers.
The Blue Streaks went 24-of-60 (40.0 percent) and 8-of-17 (47.1 percent) from beyond the arc.
ONU dominated the rebounding battle, grabbing 43 compared to 27 for John Carroll.
"It is outstanding for this team to make the title game again," Durand added. "We lost five great seniors from last season. We were young entering this year, but have done a great job bringing it every night."