By Blake Moore
MEADVILLE, Pa. — The Ohio Northern women's basketball program raised the curtain on its 2018-19 season in winning fashion Friday afternoon, defeating Chatham (Pa.) 70-43 in the opening game of the Allegheny (Pa.) Tip-Off Tournament inside the David V. Wise Center in Meadville, Pennsylvania.
Northern begins the new season with a 1-0 overall record following the victory. Meanwhile, the Cougars suffer their first loss this season and fall to 3-1 overall.
Senior guard Jenna Dirksen (Beavercreek/Carroll) and junior center Emily Mescher (Maria Stein/Marion Local) paced the Polar Bear offense with 12 points each in the season opener. Meanwhile, the latter would tack on a team-high seven rebounds in the contest, leading ONU to a sizeable 50-33 edge on the boards.
Sophomore guard Emily Brock (Akron/Revere) would chip in nine points off the bench, nailing three three-pointers, while classmate Sydney Ward (Columbus/Upper Arlington) and freshman Lexi Jacobs (Wapakoneta) contributed eight points each in reserve roles. The trio's efforts would lead an ONU bench that outscored the Chatham reserves 35-18 in the contest.
The Cougars were led offensively by Ashley McClain and Kaitlyn Fertig, who eached registered 12 points. Katie Sieg would be Chatham's leading rebounder as she tallied six boards to go along with her eight points.
Northern would never trail in the afternoon affair as they bolted out to an early 6-2 advantage just three minutes into the contest. From there, the Polar Bears would double their lead to 14-6 before the buzzer sounded to close the first frame.
The Cougars managed to keep the game close throughout the remaining first half, trailing just 27-17 headed into the intermission, but Northern would begin to pull away as the third quarter began. ONU would outscore Chatham 20-8 in the third stanza to build a 47-25 lead, propelling the Polar Bears to their first victory this year.
As a team, Northern shot 47.3% overall in Friday's contest with 21 of their 26 made buckets coming via an assist. The Polar Bears also shined from beyond the arc, going 8-for-20 for a 40% shooting clip.
Ohio Northern will conclude their stay at the Allegheny (Pa.) Tip-Off Tournament with a matchup against the host Gators tomorrow afternoon. The contest is slated for a 1 p.m. start inside the David V. Wise Center.