By Tim Glon
MARIETTA — Ohio Northern got a career-high five 3-pointers from sophomore Emily Brock (Akron/Revere) and some key plays in the final minutes from senior Jenna Dirksen (Beavercreek/Carroll) to post a thrilling 59-55 victory at Marietta in the semifinals of the Ohio Athletic Conference Women's Basketball Tournament on Thursday night at Ban Johnson Fieldhouse.
The seventh-seeded Polar Bears (15-12 overall) advance Saturday's finals at 3 pm at top-seeded John Carroll and will be making their third consecutive appearance in the championship game of the tournament.
The third-seeded Pioneers end their season with an 18-9 mark.
Sophomore Emily Brock (Akron/Revere) was 5-for-6 from 3-point range to lead ONU with 15 points.
Dirksen finished with 12 points and junior Emily Mescher (Maria Stein/Marion Local) chipped in 10 points for Ohio Northern.
Marietta was led by Corrie Burkhart with 15 points.
Mescher scored inside to tie it at 51-all and senior Tori Wyss (Ada) drilled a 3-pointer to put ONU up 54-51 with 2:13 left in the game.
After a pair of free throws by MC's Shay Lett, Mescher scored inside again as the shot clock sounded to give Ohio Northern a 56-53 lead with 1:24 remaining.
Burkhart made two free throws with :28.0 left to pull the hosts within 56-55, but Dirksen answered with two free throws at the :18.4 mark to make it 58-55.
Dirksen then blocked a Pioneer three-pointer try with 12 second to go and another desperation three with 4.1 seconds left missed badly and ONU took over as the ball rolled out of bounds.
Dirksen then made the second of two free throws with 3.0 seconds left to clinch the game.
"I am so happy for our ladies," ONU head coach Michele Durand said. "They stepped up and made big play after big play down the stretch. Jenna (Dirksen) was dead tired with five or so minutes to go, but we gave her a little rest and she was terrific the final three minutes. Tori (Wyss) drilled a big 3 and Brock was hot from out there all night. Mescher hit two big baskets inside in critical situations. Our defense was very good all night. It was a great atmosphere and we played well as a team."
Northern used a 26-8 run to take a 29-18 lead in the second quarter before settling for a 29-23 lead at intermission.
The Pioneers answered with a 21-6 run of their own to regain a 39-35 lead with 3:26 left in the third quarter.
A free throw by sophomore Sydney Ward (Columbus/Upper Arlington) and another three by Brock tied the game at 39-all with 1:30 to go in the third.
Wyss hit a long jumper and Brock followed with her fifth three, capping a 9-0 run, and ONU led 44-39 just 1:26 into the fourth quarter.
MC scored the next seven points of the fourth period to go up 46-44, but Dirksen scored in the lane and senior Alyssa Manley (Lima/Bath) drilled a 3 to put ONU back on top 49-46 with 4:51 to play.
Ohio Northern made 22-of-51 from the floor for 43.1 percent and were a sizzling 11-of-22 on three-pointers for 50.0 percent. Marietta was 17-of-48 from the field for 35.4 percent and made 5-of-23 from beyond the arc for 21.7 percent.
MC out-rebounded ONU 31-30.