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Polar Bears Close Out Titans In Final Minutes

Leah Porath scored 19 points and collected nine rebounds against the Polar Bears.
Leah Porath scored 19 points and collected nine rebounds against the Polar Bears.

Ohio Northern University closed the game with 12 unanswered points over the final 2:11 to defeat the nationally ranked UW-Oshkosh women's basketball team, 62-56, Saturday (Nov. 23) at the Wisconsin Lutheran College Paul Knueppel Classic in Milwaukee.

UW-Oshkosh's Olivia Campbell made a pair of free throws for a 56-50 Titan lead with 2:40 remaining in the fourth quarter, but Ohio Northern University's Jaidyn Hale buried a 3-pointer before a layup by Emily Mescher cut the Polar Bears' deficit to 56-55 with 1:29 left.

Ohio Northern University (3-0) then reclaimed the lead for good at 57-56 on a Lexi Jacobs jumper with 47 seconds remaining. UW-Oshkosh, ranked 17th in the NCAA Division III by D3hoops.com, missed a shot in the paint with 28 seconds to go, and the Polar Bears secured the win by going 5-for-6 at the free throw line during the final 19 seconds. Ohio Northern University's four-quarter lead was its first since heading into intermission with a 26-23 advantage.

Hale led the Polar Bears in scoring with 17 points, including 14 in the second half. She made each of her five attempts from 3-point range and both of her free throws in 25 minutes off the bench.

Mescher and Jacobs added 14 and 12 points, respectively, as the Polar Bears won the first meeting between the teams. Ohio Northern University reserve Kate Iliff pulled down a team-high seven rebounds.

Ohio Northern University shot 40.4 percent (19-47) from the field, 36.4 percent (8-22) from beyond the 3-point arc and 76.2 percent (16-21) at the free throw line. The Polar Bears owned a 35-30 rebounding edge.

UW-Oshkosh's Leah Porath paced all players with 19 points on 7 of 12 shooting from the floor and nine rebounds.

Nikki Arneson had a season-best 18 points for the Titans, who also received four points, four rebounds and a game-best six assists from Campbell, the Titans' lone representative on the Paul Knueppel Classic All-Tournament Team.

UW-Oshkosh concluded the contest shooting 34.6 percent (18-52) from the field, 27.3 percent (9-33) from 3-point range and 91.7 percent (11-12) at the foul line. The Titans held slim advantages of 13-12 in assists, 11-12 in turnovers, 8-5 in steals and 2-1 in blocks.

Arneson hit a 3-pointer for a 16-10 UW-Oshkosh lead with 3:03 left in the first quarter. Brynn Serbin answered with a long-range jumper of her own 16 seconds later to cut the Polar Bears' deficit to 16-13 after one period.

Hale then buried the first of her five 3-pointers to provide Ohio Northern University a 22-21 lead at the four-minute mark of the second quarter. Hale's 3-pointer continued a string of nine consecutive Polar Bear points until Porath scored in the lane to pull the Titans within 26-23 at intermission.

Porath drilled a 3-pointer on the opening possession of the second half to knot the score at 26, and the Titans did not trail until the final minute after Porath hit another long-range jumper for a 29-26 UW-Oshkosh advantage with 7:07 remaining in the third period.

UW-Oshkosh (2-3) plays at Alma College (Mich.) on Monday (Nov. 25).