By Blake Moore
BEREA — The seventh-seeded Ohio Northern women's basketball program advanced to its 10th straight Ohio Athletic Conference Tournament Semifinal Tuesday evening, toppling second-seeded Baldwin Wallace 70-53 at Ursprung Gymnasium in the OAC Tournament Quarterfinals.
With the victory, the Polar Bears improve to 14-12 overall on the season and ensure the program's 10th consecutive winning season.
"It was a great team win for us over a really strong Baldwin Wallace squad," head coach Michele Durand stated. "I am really proud of my team and their effort this evening. We could not have played harder or asked for more out of our athletes tonight."
The Yellow Jackets conclude their season with a 19-7 overall mark.
Senior guard Jenna Dirksen (Beavercreek/Carroll) scored a team-high 22 points on eight-for-twelve shooting in the upset victory. She would add three rebounds, an assist, and a blocked shot Tuesday night to guide Northern.
Dirksen now owns 1,071 career points at ONU, which ranks 12th all-time in program history.
Meanwhile, junior center Emily Mescher (Maria Stein/Marion Local) added 12 points and six rebounds, including a team-high three offensive boards. The Maria Stein product also chipped in a team-high three assists to aid the offensive charge.
Additionally, senior Tori Wyss (Ada) hauled in a team-high seven rebounds, providing ONU with a 35-28 edge on the glass.
Baldwin Wallace was led in scoring by forward Sydney Diedrich, who tossed in 11 points on four-for-nine shooting.
In the first period, the Yellow Jackets jumped out to an early 7-2 advantage after just two minutes on the floor. Moments later, Ohio Northern put together a brief 6-0 spurt to grab their first lead of the evening at 12-11, but BW ultimately led after the first 10 minutes 18-14.
The tight-knit affair would continue into the second period with neither team taking more than a six-point advantage. Baldwin Wallace tried to expand their lead over the half's final minutes, increasing their lead to five at the 1:46 mark. However, Mescher and freshman guard Lexi Jacobs (Wapakoneta) nailed back-to-back jumpers right before the intermission to trail just 32-31 headed into the locker rooms.
Northern began to click offensively following the break as the visitors reeled off an impressive eight-for-eleven effort in the third period. With the score tied 38-38, the hot shooting stretch fueled a 10-3 run to lead 48-41 and provide the Polar Bears a lead they would not relinquish.
ONU pulled away late in the contest, taking command with a 17-point advantage at the 1:43 mark, their largest lead Tuesday evening. During the fourth period, Northern continued to shoot well from the floor, going four-for-six overall and 11-for-16 from the charity stripe to close out the victory.
Ohio Northern finished the evening 26-for-48 (54.2%) from the floor, including 5-for-15 (33.3%) from the three-point line. Meanwhile, BW ended the night with a 35.1% clip on 20-for-57 shooting and 24.2% from beyond the arc on an 8-for-33 effort.
The Polar Bears will advance to play on the road at third-seeded Marietta, who defeated Mount Union 74-55, on Thursday evening in the OAC Tournament Semifinals at 7 p.m.