By Caleb Scott
ADA — The No. 5-ranked Ohio Northern women's basketball team used a defensive effort to defeat Marietta 61-60 in Thursday evening's Ohio Athletic Conference Tournament semifinal round to advance to the OAC Tournament championship on Saturday afternoon.
The Polar Bears move to 26-0 overall with the victory.
With Northern up by one point and Marietta in possession of the final shot, junior Amy Bullimore (Morrow/Little Miami) recorded back-to-back blocks to seal the Polar Bear victory.
Bullimore posted a team-high 14 points and added game-highs in rebounds (9) and blocks (5).
Senior Britt Lauck (Lima/Shawnee) added 12 points, five rebounds and five assists for the Polar Bears.
Much like the regular season finale, the two teams played a competitive first quarter that saw Ohio Northern lead by as many as five points and take a 19-17 lead into the second quarter.
Marietta would grab its first lead of the evening at the 7:16 mark of the second quarter before Lauck found Cramer, who drilled a 3-pointer to give Northern a 24-22 lead with 6:59 remaining in the first half.
Junior Lindsey Black (Urbana/Graham) would hit a jumper with nine seconds left in the half to push the Polar Bear lead to 34-30 at the intermission.
Bullimore opened the second half on a personal 6-0 run to extend the Northern lead to 40-30 with 7:29 left in the third quarter.
Northern would see its lead grow to as many as 13 after Bullimore found Lauck on a fast break and gave ONU a 47-34 lead with 5:31 remaining in the quarter.
After a layup from Cramer pushed the lead to 57-45 with 8:34 remaining in the contest, the Pioneers used an 11-0 run to climb within 57-56 with 3:42 remaining.
The two teams would exchange baskets down the stretch before Bullimore hit a jumper for what would prove to be the game-winner.
"We are really grateful to win this game," said head coach Michele Durand. "I thought Marietta played a heck of a game and its exciting to advance to the tournament final. We played much better in the second half and had some things go our way. We made some plays defensively down the stretch and are just happy to come away with a victory."
ONU shot 21-of-57 (36.8 percent) from the field, and shot hit 16-of-17 free throws for 94.1 percent.
Northern won the rebounding battle by a 45-35 margin.
The Polar Bears return to action Saturday afternoon at 3 pm as they host No. 3-seeded Wilmington in the OAC Tournament Championship with an automatic bid to the NCAA III Tournament on the line.