ADA – It was total domination from the opening tip.
Ohio Northern’s defense was simply suffocating.
ONU ran past Defiance 93-51 in a men’s college basketball game Tuesday at the King Horn Center.
In the women’s basketball game, ONU knocked off Defiance 82-58.
For ONU first-year coach Rich Bensman, it was his first collegiate victory. Bensman did log 296 wins at Reading High School in Cincinnati, including winning the 2003 state championship.
ONU is 1-2, while Defiance is 0-3.
ONU ran out to a 23-0 lead and used that momentum to roll past Defiance.
Defiance missed its first 18 shots and never was able to recover from the onslaught.
“We’re trying to find our identity and build a culture here now like it was in the past with coach (Gale) Daugherty and coach (Joe) Campoli and I know defense was pretty important then,” Bensman said. “And for me, in high school, our trademark was pretty much our man defense. The kids are learning an entirely new system and this defense is something that’s not going to be sprinkled on and they can do it over night.
“We’re still getting things in with the system (offensively and defensively) and we just want to get better. And I think this was a really good defensive effort. I thought our kids had the energy the whole game.”
Leading the bustout for the Polar Bears was Konnor Baker, who had 11 first-half points. Ryan Bruns, a 6-foot-8 sophomore from Marion Local, had seven points and six rebounds at the half.
For the game, Baker (Ada) had 17 points and eight rebounds. Nate Burger came off the bench to score 17 points.
Bruns had 14 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks.
“He (Bruns) runs the floor well and we give him the green light to come off his man and block shots of other guys. But he’s really done a good job of keeping his feet on his own guy,” Bensman said.
Aron Thress had 12 points and 11 rebounds. Devon Allen had 12 points for ONU.
Overall, ONU hit 6 of 17 on 3-pointers and shot 51.5 percent from the field.
ONU’s defense not only held Defiance to 29 percent shooting, it forced 18 turnovers, which led to fast-break opportunities at the other end.
That helped ONU take a 43-24 lead at the half.
ONU continued to roll in the second half, behind its sticky man-to-man defense and unselfish passing in the halfcourt.
“We have to play together or it’s not going to happen,” Bensman said. “They have to learn to share the basketball a little bit and if they can do that … And I think they were very unselfish tonight.”
ONU women 82,
Ohio Northern used its swarming defense and running game to pull away with a victory over Defiance.
Britt Lauck (Shawnee) paced ONU with 20 points and hit 8 of 17 from the field. Amy Bullimore had 14 points and five rebounds. Courtney Cramer scored 10 and freshman Emily Mescher (Marion Local) had 10 points and eight rebounds.
ONU stands 4-0, while Defiance is 1-2.
Defiance was led by 6-foot-3 Kelsey Tietje’s 23 points and 12 rebounds.
The Polar Bears led 28-18 after the first quarter and 45-32 at the half.
But Defiance began feeding Heartland Collegiate Conference player of the year Tietje (Patrick Henry) and the Yellow Jackets sliced the margin to 45-39 with 8:36 left in the third quarter.
ONU then clamped down on defense, broke out to a few fastbreaks and knocked down threes at the other end.
Jenna Dirksen hit a 3-pointer and a fastbreak layup to help ONU pull out to a 51-39 lead.
ONU closed the third quarter with a 66-51 lead.
“Our defense gets us running and we wanted to run the ball,” ONU coach Michele Durand said. “We wanted to run because she (Tietje) is really hard to defend in the halfcourt situation.
“We can play a lot of people and we have a lot of people who can score and do different things and I think it wears on people after a while.”
The Polar Bears then used a 10-2 run to start the final quarter and the Polar Bears’ lead went to 76-53 lead. During that run, Lauck and Courtney Cramer hit fastbreak layups, Cramer hit a 3-pointer and Bullimore knocked in a 5-footer.
“We played fast in the beginning and once we got a lead, we let up on defense,” Lauck said. “And at halftime we knew had to focus on the defense again. We’ve always said that our defense is our offense.”
Bullimore took over down the stretch, with seven fourth-quarter points.
“I said, ‘Let’s go. She’s (Tietje) not going to score 30 on me. And the guards we’re really good at feeding it to me.”
ONU shot 47 percent from the field and hit 7 of 15 on 3-pointers.
ONU won the boards, 47-37.
ONU returns three starters and plenty of veterans from a team that went 23-5 last year, won the Ohio Athletic Conference and reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
“I think it’s going to be a fun year,” Bullimore said.