The Battling Bishops left their first-half momentum in the locker room …
Ohio Wesleyan, looking for its first home win of the season, came up short in the second half after building an early lead over visiting Ohio Northern in a 65-61 non-conference loss to the Polar Bears in women’s basketball action Wednesday night at Branch Rickey Arena.
Stacy Ungashick-Lobdell’s Bishops turned an early 11-9 Polar Bear lead into a 38-30 halftime advantage thanks to a 29-19 run that saw OWU score 11 points over the final 2:59 of the opening 20 minutes. Julia Grimsley, the Bishops’ 5-foot-4 senior guard who was 5-for-5 from behind the arc in the opening half, hit four of her threes in the 29-19 run.
“We played a solid first half, going into halftime with momentum and the lead,” coach Ungashick-Lobdell said. “We took advantage of our shots and competed on the boards to go into the break with a 38-30 lead.”
Ohio Northern (5-2), which leads the all-time series with OWU 14-8, wasn’t ready to call it a night.
The Polar Bears, who were ranked in the top 25 in Division III last week, came back out and opened the second half with a 24-9 run to take a 7-point, 54-47 lead on 6-foot sophomore forward Karissa Steffas’ basket with 10:14 remaining in the contest. The Bishops battled back to within one of the lead at 62-61 as freshman wing Kierstynn Myers, a graduate of Olentangy Orange High School, drilled her second three-pointer of the night with 2:11 to play.
But in a matter of two minutes and 42 seconds, the Polar Bears’ 5-8 senior guard Sara Kocian counted her second three of the game to give ONU a 65-61 lead with 1:47 to play. Ohio Wesleyan (3-5) failed to score the rest of the way, turning the ball over on two of its last four possessions, in suffering its second home loss of the young season. The Bishops dropped a 72-65 decision to Capital in their home-opener on Nov. 26.
Second-half shooting and rebounding hurt Ohio Wesleyan. After shooting 51.6 percent (16-for-31) in the first half, the Bishops struggled in the second half, shooting a chilly 31.0 percent (9-for-29). By comparison, the Polar Bears shot 56.0 percent (14-for-25) in the second half, after opening with a 10-f0r 28, 35.7 percentage in the first 20 minutes.
After being outrebounded 19-6 in the first half, ONU came back out and won the battle of the boards in the second half by a 20-15 margin.
“Our shooting wasn’t as effective in the second half and we weren’t challenging Ohio Northern on the boards,” Ungashick-Lobdell said. “While we competed with Ohio Northern and put ourselves in a position to win the game, I was disappointed with the way we shot the ball and went to the boards … but those are two areas of the game we can work on and become better as the season progresses.”
For the game, Ohio Northern shot 45.3 percent (24-for-53) from the field and 60.9 percent (14-for-23) at the charity stripe. OWU finished with a 41.7 shooting percentage (25-for-60), including 8-for-20 (40.0 percent) in threes, and 42.9 percent (3-for-7) at the line. The Polar Bears claimed a 36-34 edge on the boards.
Taylor Hermiller, a 5-7 senior guard, led ONU with 15 points. Kocian followed with 13 points and 5 assists while Brooke Espenschied and Cenzie Yoder followed with 11 and 10 points, respectively. Junior forward Jordan Kimes and Yoder pulled down 7 rebounds apiece.
Grimsley matched Hermiller for scoring honors with 15 points. Junior post Kristin Henning joined Grimsley in double figures with 10 points. Junior guard Sarah McQuade handed out 4 assists. Henning and McQuade collected 6 rebounds apiece.
Ohio Wesleyan returns to action Friday, Dec. 20, playing host to Wilmington at 5 p.m. at Branch Rickey Arena.