According to Heidelberg senior Kyra Dorney, everything that happened on the court Saturday "fit like a little puzzle."
Needing a win to advance to their first Ohio Athletic Conference Tournament since 2010, the Student Princes played fast and smooth, took a big lead early and left Otterbein behind.
It was Senior Day in more ways than one. All four of the team's upperclassmen started. Three of them scored in double figures.
PHOTO BY PAT?GAIETTO
Heidelberg’s Megan Miller, a Columbian graduate, dribbles against the defense of Otterbein’s Amariah Huck Saturday at Seiberling Gymnasium. Miller scored 12 points and picked up five rebounds in the Student Princes’ win.?
Kathleen Phillips scored 26 points, and Molly Schriber played the best game of her collegiate career as HU won, 77-66.
With the victory, Heidelberg finishes the regular season 12-13, 5-13 in the OAC. The league mark secures it the eighth seed in the tournament. Heidelberg will play at the fifth seed, Wilmington, Monday evening.
Phillips, who has been a starter and the team's most dynamic player since the moment she stepped on the court, came out on fire. She made her first nine shots from the floor, finishing with 26 points, three assists and three steals.
|Heidelberg 77, Otterbein 66|
|Otterbein (7-18, 3-15): Amariah Huck 5-3-13; Tabatha Piper 7-5-19; Chelsea Reed 1-3-5; Madi Miller 2-1-5; Mary Corbett 2-0-4; Kyleigh Wyeth 3-0-8; Marissa Sheets 0-0-0 Cheyanne Hartley Carr 1-0-2; Lindsey Rosendale 0-0-0; Heather Saalman 0-0-0; Taylor Goth 0-0-0; Taylor Pifher 4-2-10. Totals:25-14-66.|
|Heidelberg (12-13, 5-13): Molly Schriber 8-2-19; Kyra Dorney 1-0-2; Megan Miller 4-0-10; Paige Ricketts 1-0-2; Kathleen Phillips 10-2-26; Allie Hawkins 4-0-9; Carli Patrick 2-0-4; Nicole Payne 0-0-0; Jackie Abrecht 1-1-4; Erin Sims 0-0-0. Totals: 31-6-77.|
|Halftime: Heidelberg 40-24.|
|Field goals: Otterbein 25-50; Heidelberg 31-60.|
|3-point goals: Otterbein 2-14 (Wyeth 2-3, Reed 0-1, Miller 0-2, Corbett 0-3, Hartley-Carr 0-3, Pifher 0-1); Heidelberg 9-20 (Phillips 4-6, Miller 2-7, Schriber 1-2, Abrecht 1-2, Hawkins 1-2, Ricketts 0-1).|
|Rebounds: Otterbein 28 (Piper 7); Heidelberg 24.|
|Turnovers: Otterbein 23; Heidelberg 14.|
|Assists: Otterbein 19 (Reed 5, Huck 4, Miller 4); Heidelberg 22 (Schriber 8, Hawkins 4)|
Phillips was injured didn't play when Heidelberg and Otterbein played last month, a game the Cardinals won.
No one needed to remind Phillips of that.
"I knew I didn't play against them last time and I really wanted the chance to just... annihilate them," she said.
And while Phillips was piling up points, Schriber was playing a big role, setting career highs in points (19) and assists (8).
Schriber made 8 of 13 shots from the floor while collecting three rebounds.
"I just went and played like my coach says," Schriber said. "I just played basketball. Simple enough."
And the assists?
"I like to dish it off, do those fancy passes, give it to my teammates," Schriber said. "Get 'em those nice little buckets."
One beneficiary of those assists was Megan Miller, the only Seneca County product on the roster. The former Columbian standout scored 10 points and tied for the team lead with rebounds.
"I felt like I went out strong; I've definitely been preparing for it," Miller said of her final home game. "We all just played together very well as a team, and that helped individuals step up too."
Heidelberg trailed only once all game, when Otterbein's Tabitha Piper made two free throws to make it 2-0. Phillips answered by hitting the first of four 3-pointers, then made a jumper to make it 5-2. Miller hit a 3, Schriber made a jumper, and Otterbein coach Connie Richardson - a Heidelberg graduate - called timeout with the score 10-2.
First-year Heidelberg coach Morgan Shriver said starting strong was key, and she attributed it to a good week of practice, led by the seniors.
"I let each senior pick what we were doing in practice," Shriver said. "This whole week has been probably the most productive week of the season. They were playing loose (Saturday)."
Otterbein's Mary Corbett made a basket after Richardson's timeout to cut HU's lead to six.
The Cardinals came no closer the rest of the game. 'Berg led 40-24 at halftime, and led by as many as 19 in the second half.
Otterbein finishes the regular season 7-18, 3-15. Piper had 19 points and seven rebounds to lead the Cardinals, while Amariah Huck scored 13 and Taylor Pifher 10.
St. Wendelin graduate Heather Saalman and Shelby grad Taylor Goth - both Otterbein freshmen - played but did not score.
Heidelberg's Allie Hawkins added nine points and four assists off the bench, while Dorney finished with two points and a steal.
Heidelberg completed the regular season with it's most wins since 2006-2007, a team Shriver played on.
Dorney said she thinks the program is set in a good direction.
"This is one of the closest teams I've been (on) in a really long time," she said. "Everyone comes to practice fired up, ready to go. We've got a great coach over here helping us, (she'll) push us to the limits."