Heidelberg puts scare into No. 9 ONU

Paige Ricketts connected on a pair of free throws with 7:07 remaining in regulation, knotting Heidelberg with No. 9 Ohio Northern, 59-59.

The Student Princes, who had trailed by as many as 11 early in the second half, suddenly were closing in on a major upset.

And then the Polar Bears (13-1, 7-0 Ohio Athletic Conference) showed why they are the No. 9 team in the nation.

They scored six straight points off of free throws and forced Heidelberg into turnovers on four consecutive possessions. When Ohio Northern’s Katie Mengos stole the ball from Ricketts and Kenzie Yoder converted it into a layup, it capped a 10-0 Polar Bears run, which led to a 76-65 ONU win.

After tying the game on Ricketts’ free throws, Heidelberg was outscored 17-6 the rest of the game.

“I don’t think their press hurt us, per se,” Heidelberg coach Marcie Alberts said. “It was more us not attacking it the right way. We go against it every day in practice.”

Ohio Northern (13-1, 7-0) shot 14 of 25 from the floor in the second half, but Ohio Northern coach Michele Durand said it was the defensive pressure that changed things.

“I think the press made the difference in the second half,” Durand said. “It, for whatever reason, helped us. Maybe they weren’t expecting it, I’m not sure, but I’m glad it did [help us].”

Cenzie Yoder led the Polar Bears with 18 points and nine rebounds. But she also had a huge night defensively, with four steals and a block.

“I thought Northern did a good job of getting it to Yoder,” Alberts said. “Yoder’s the key. She’s a stud inside. We let her be a stud inside, and we can’t do that. We’ve got to be more intelligent than that, and hopefully we’ll learn from it. There’s no better post than her in our conference.”

ONU’s Joanna Snyder also had a solid game up front, going for 15 points and six rebounds.

The Polar Bears outboarded the Student Princes 34-25, and had four players score in double figures. Morgan Dumbaugh had 14 points, while Polar Bear teammate Brooke Espenschied had 11 of the bench.

Meanwhile, Heidelberg was led by Kathleen Phillips, who had 19 points, and scored HU’s first eight of the game. She’s now 19 away from reaching 1,000 points for her career.

Heidelberg (5-9, 1-6) had two other players score in double figures, including Columbian graduate Megan Miller, who had 11 points and a team-best seven rebounds. Emily Giel hit three 3-pointers and also scored 11 points.

Alberts said she wants her team to have a positive attitude, even after the loss.

“I think too many times we’re negative with ourselves,” Alberts said. “‘We can’t make a free throw, we can’t box out, we can’t do this.’ Well, if you keep telling yourself that then you won’t be able to do it. So, we’ve got to change how we talk to ourselves a little bit, and I think that would help. I think down the stretch we got too negative.”