By Blake Moore
ADA — The Ohio Northern women's basketball program held the visiting Marietta Pioneers to a 33% shooting clip and forced 18 total turnovers, propelling the Polar Bears to a critical, 64-50 Ohio Athletic Conference victory Saturday afternoon inside the ONU Sports Center in Ada.
With the triumph, ONU improves to 10-5 overall and evens their conference mark at 4-4 in the 2018-19 campaign. Meanwhile, the Pioneers fall to 9-6 overall and 4-4 against the league circuit.
Senior guard Jenna Dirksen (Beavercreek/Carroll) and junior guard Abby Weeks (West Chester/Mount Notre Dame) each turned in double-digit scoring efforts, registering 17 and 12 points, respectively. The tandem would also record four assists each and combine for five steals and two blocks at the defensive end.
Junior center Emily Mescher (Maria Stein/Marion Local) nearly recorded her second double-double outing this season, posting eight points on three-for-seven shooting and hauling in a team-high nine rebounds.
Marietta would be paced offensively by Shay Lett and Jo Herd-Middlebrooks with 12- and 10-point efforts, respectively.
In the first quarter, the Pioneers got out to a quick lead with a 5-0 run that spanned the first two minutes in the contest. However, Northern would respond immediately with their own 8-0 run that took just over one minute to complete, giving the Polar Bears their first lead Saturday afternoon. From there, the game would remain close throughout the opening stanza with ONU owning a slight 13-12 edge after the first quarter concluded.
The Orange and Black started the second frame with a 10-2 run that lasted until the first media timeout at the 4:58 mark in the period. Wyss would kickstart the stretch with a layup and a three-pointer before Dirksen and Mescher added a basket each to the cause.
Ohio Northern would then string together a 6-0 run moments following a converted Marietta jumpshot, helping the home side outscore the Pioneers 18-8 in the second stanza.
Owning a 31-20 lead at the break, the Polar Bears would return to action looking to break away from their weekend visitors, opening the half with an 8-0 run that included a Weeks' jumper and back-to-back Manley three-pointers to force a Marietta timeout.
Northern would expand the lead to as many as 20 points at the 6:49 and 5:54 marks before the Pioneers began to close the gap. Following the third period media timeout, the visitors would outscore ONU 15-2 to close the third period, narrowing the lead to just seven before the final 10 minutes began.
In the fourth period, the home team assembled one final 8-0 run midway through the frame, stretching the lead back to a comfortable 15-point cushion that proved to be too much for the Pioneers to overcome. With the game on the line, Ohio Northern held Marietta to just 11 points on 25% shooting in the final stanza to ensure the victory.
The Polar Bears will return to action this Wednesday evening when they wrap up their current four-game home stand against OAC foe Otterbein inside the ONU Sports Center. Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m. in Ada.