ADA — Ohio Northern did what it does best.
The Polar Bears pounded it inside to 6-foot-1 Amy Bullimore and she either scored or kicked it back out to the plethora of shooters.
ONU took full advantage of playing at home by rolling past Lakeland (Wis.) 68-36 in the first round of the women’s Division III NCAA Tournament before a crowd of over 900 Friday at the ONU Sports Center.
The Polar Bears (28-0) advance to the NCAA round of 32 to face No. 15 Trine (25-2) at 7:30 p.m. today at ONU.
This marks ONU’s ninth trip to the NCAA Tournament, including reaching the second round last year. It was the first time the ONU women played on its home floor.
“I think we feel really comfortable to be home,” ONU guard Britt Lauck said. “It’s kind of surreal and we want to take advantage of it. … And we don’t like to lose at home.”
Lakeland is 20-8.
ONU shredded the Lakeland 2-3 zone with balance down low and on the outside.
Bullimore finished with 18 points and seven rebounds.
“It was a really good environment and we just what we can do and came out strong,” Bullimore said.
Lauck had 11 points, seven rebounds and six assists for ONU. Jenna Dirksen added 10 points, five rebounds and four assists.
Lindsey Black came off the bench for nine points and four assists.
Courtney Cramer played her usual shut-down defense on guard Bailey Grayvold, who came in averaging 17 points per game. Grayvold managed to score only three points on 1 of 10 shooting.
“I think that was my job tonight, to shut down their best player,” Cramer said. “Whenever she had the ball, I thought, ‘she’s not going to get past me.’ ’’
Lakeland came out in a 2-3 zone and ONU answered it by finding the seams around the foul line, then dumping into Bullimore on the blocks.
ONU led 15-11 after the first quarter and used a 6-0 run to pull out to a 19-11 lead with 8:45 in the second.
Bullimore hit a 5-footer and a layup, off a driving scoop pass from Lauck.
Lauck’s 3-pointer from nearly the Polar Bears’ nose at halfcourt gave ONU a 30-18 lead.
“Once we got the game going and got running, I think it was to our advantage,” ONU coach Michele Durand said. … “And we got the ball inside when we wanted and Amy got going in the second quarter.”
ONU closed the half with a 7-0 run to take a 37-20 lead at halftime. In that half-closing run, Lindsey Black had a 12-footer and a 3-pointer.
“Once we got it inside a lot, they collapsed on Amy and we got kickouts and hit some open threes,” Lauck said.
ONU forced 15 turnovers, which sparked in their running game. That helped the Polar Bears lead 55-32 after three quarters.
Lakeland never recovered.
Rachel Stankevich led Lakeland with 16 points and five rebounds.
“They (ONU) are a great basketball team for a reason,” Lakeland coach Aaron Nester said. “They did a lot of good things tonight. They are extremely efficient, offensively. Amy Bullimore is tough inside and they have four girls who shoot over 40 percent on threes. It is kind of pick your poison with them. … They are a talented group.”
ONU shot 47 percent from the field and was 6 of 14 on 3-pointers.
Lakeland hit 23 percent from the field and was 4 of 32 on 3-pointers.
ONU won the boards, 45-34.
“It was obviously cool to be here in the NCAAs, but to have a fan advantage was awesome,” Cramer said.
No. 15 Trine 63, Illinois Wesleyan 56
Trine (25-2) won the first game of the night at ONU, pulling away from Illinois Wesleyan at the end.
Wright State-transfer guard Brandi Dawson led Trine with 21 points, three blocks and three steals.
Hayley Martin, a 6-foot-2 center, had 18 points and six rebounds for Trine. Cassidy Williams (Archbold) had seven points and seven rebounds.
Trine’s power and inside game proved too much for Illinois Wesleyan, which countered with quickness and a full-court, man-to-man press.
Rebekah Ehresman led Illinois Wesleyan (18-10) with 15 points.
Trine took the lead to stay on a fast-break layup by Dawson with 4:49 to go to give the Thunder a 51-49 lead.
Trine dominated the boards, 37-21.