ADA — The Ohio Northern women’s basketball team came into Saturday’s Ohio Athletic Conference Tournament Championship game on a hot streak. The Polar Bears had won 11 straight against OAC foes, including an 80-71 victory over John Carroll on Thursday in the conference semifinals. Capital advanced their way to the OAC championship after knocking off the number one seed, Baldwin Wallace, 75-73 in overtime. Capital kept their momentum running as their defense forced 24 turnovers away from ONU on their way to a 67-50 victory to claim the OAC tournament crown for the tenth time in school history.
Capital (19-8) receives an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Championships.
ONU (23-5) hopes to receive an at-large bid to the big dance.
Participants for the NCAA Division III Championships will be announced at 2:30 p.m. Monday.
“If we’re fortunate enough to make it (to the NCAA Division III Championships) it’s a new season for us,” ONU coach Michele Durand said. “The last time we lost we won 11 in a row so you never know.”
Capital started the game off with a 7-0 run. ONU answered back with a 5-0 run of their own to narrow the deficit to 7-5 with 15:26 left in the first half. Jordan Kimes got the Polar Bears started with a put back and another basket on their next possession.
The Crusaders eventually extended their lead to as many as nine points in the first half when they led 16-7 with 12:08 remaining. That is when the Polar Bears began to claw their way back.
Carly Thomas made three straight shots for the Polar Bears and Celina graduate Cenzie Yoder made a basket of her own and also made two free throws to make the score 18-17 in favor of Capital with 9:21 left to go in the half.
Both teams kept trading baskets for the rest of the first half and Capital took a 28-24 lead into the locker room at halftime.
ONU shot 10-19 from the field in the first half while Capital shot 11-30. ONU turned the ball over 13 times while Capital only turned it over five.
“Turnovers killed us the whole game and give them (Capital) a lot of credit because they caused them,” ONU coach Durand said.
While the first half was a back and forth affair, the second half proved to be the difference.
Capital jumped out to a 29-16 run to begin the second half. Lauren Stefancin came off the bench and scored all nine of her points during that run. Stefancin was 3-4 on three pointers.
The Polar Bears turned the ball over 11 more times in the second half and just couldn’t find a rhythm from the field.
Capital shot 28-62 from the field including 5-11 from three point territory.
Jamie Caton was named tournament MVP and scored 20 points. Simonne Gage was also named to the All-Tournament team pitching in with 11 points.
“It was one of those days,” Durand said. “They came in and won the game and I felt like we played a little bit not to lose. They came and took it to us and won the game.”
Kimes and Yoder both made the All-Tournament team for ONU. Yoder led the Polar Bears with 16 points. The senior also grabbed six rebounds. Kimes scored 14 points and pulled down 11 rebounds.
Missy Spahar of John Carroll and Baldwin Wallace’s Shari Mangas, a Leipsic graduate, also made the All-Tournament team.