ADA — We probably won’t see anything like this any time soon.
The Ohio Northern women haven’t just beaten teams. They’ve steamrolled them.
ONU completed a perfect Ohio Athletic Conference season at 18-0 with a 77-42 college women’s basketball rout of Capital Saturday at the King Horn Center.
ONU, ranked No. 4 in the nation in Division III, stands 24-1. The 24 wins breaks the women’s school record for wins, set at 23 by the 1988 team. They had earlier wrapped up the Polar Bears’ first OAC regular-season title since 1988.
The win pushed the Polar Bears’ school-record winning streak to 23 games.
“This is a season I won’t forget,” ONU senior Joanna Snyder said. “I couldn’t imagine my senior year going any better. We worked so hard and it’s very rewarding to reap the rewards for all the work that we’ve done.”
ONU coach Michele Durand knew her team could win the OAC after finishing second last year. But did she think the Polar Bears could go 18-0?
“Probably not, no,” Durand said. “I thought we were talented enough to win it. I don’t think anyone would think they could run the table in this league. It’s really too tough. They are seven teams with winning records.”
Cenzie Yoder (Celina) led the Polar Bears with 15 points and five rebounds. She hit 7 of 10 from the field and also handed out three assists. Snyder added 15 points, five rebounds and four assists. Katie Mengos had 11 points and five rebounds. Morgan Dumbaugh chipped in with eight points and six rebounds.
In all, 14 players scored for the Polar Bears. ONU shot 52 percent from the field and held Capital to 25 percent shooting. ONU also won the boards, 43-33.
ONU will host an OAC tournament semifinal game at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at King Horn. The winner of the OAC tournament receives an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
The day kicked off with Senior Day festivities for Snyder (Fort Recovery), point guard Katie Mengos (Miami East), Dumbaugh (Ada), Katie Jones (Gibsonburg) and Marissa Clark (Sidney).
That may have caused the Polar Bears to get off to a slow start. But midway through the first half, ONU ran off a 15-4 spurt to pull out to a 30-16 lead. ONU led 34-20 at the half.
“It’s kind of bittersweet,” Mengos said. “It’s hard for me to fathom that it’s our senior day because four years have gone so fast, but I’m really glad we could have a season like this my last year.”
Dumbaugh said, “It’s an excellent feeling being able to walk off (the court) as seniors knowing that we won the OAC and went undefeated. I don’t think it’s hit us yet because we still have more expectations and goals that we’re trying to meet.”
Over the 23-game winning streak, the Polar Bears’ average margin of victory was 19 points.
“We have so many answers for people who try to shut Kate down or shut Cenzie down,” Dumbaugh said.
In the second half, Yoder powered her way to the basket and scored. Snyder weaved her way through traffic and hit 12-foot runners. ONU would go on to outscore Capital 43-22 in the second half.
“Our strength is inside and once we get it inside, usually good things happen,” Durand said.
Now it’s on to the OAC tournament.
“In the locker room we celebrated going undefeated in the conference, but as soon as that was over we said we want to come in on Monday and get some shots up,” Snyder said. “We’re definitely focused on the tournament run. We want to get two more wins and say that nobody in our conference could beat us this year.”