Marietta College women in OAC final today
MARIETTA — Marietta College figures Ohio Northern University standout Amy Bullimore, the Ohio Athletic Conference’s leading scorer, will get her points.
But, if the Pioneer defense can somehow shut down the 6-foot-1 senior post’s supporting cast…hmmmm…just maybe…yes, just maybe, the navy blue and white cagers can return to Washington County Saturday with their first OAC Tournament basketball championship and an automatic bid to the NCAA D3 tourney.
Tip-off for the women’s title tilt is scheduled for 3 p.m. at the ONU Sports Center.
“We’re playing to win,” said second-year MC head coach Kole Vivian after the second-seeded Pioneers (23-4) defeated Capital University, 81-69, in a semi Thursday night at Ban Johnson Arena. (On that same evening, top-seeded and No. 24-ranked Ohio Northern (23-4) beat Otterbein, 80-72.)
“We’ve earned this right to get to the championship game,” continued Vivian, “and now we’re ready to take the next step and put a banner up.”
Senior Brooke Borich, MC’s leading scorer with 22 points versus Capital, agreed, and added, “We’ve just got to put our minds to it, stick together, and keep fighting like we have been.”
Marietta will be the underdog when it steps on the court against the Michelle Durand-coached Polar Bears this weekend. During the regular season, the Pioneers fell twice to ONU, 72-57 at the Sports Center and 93-85 in double OT in a game they were 10 seconds from winning in the first extra session at the BanJo. (Bullimore came to the rescue when she drained her first triple of the season to tie the score.)
But all that is history, now. And, so is last year’s 61-60 OAC tourney semifinal setback at ONU. (In that contest, Bullimore blocked a last-second MC shot to preserve the victory.)
Now, instead of being history, Marietta wants to make more of it.
“Going to the OAC finals for the first time in program history is pretty special,” Vivian said.
And, of course, winning a first OAC championship, well, that — and it goes without saying — would be pretty extraordinary, too.
Marietta is expected to start Jenna Andersen, Shay Lett, Corrie Burkhardt, Amisha Herd, and Borich. Look for Alexis Enochs, Marlo Taylor, Laura Pullins, Jo Herd-Middlebrooks, Marra Woods, and Bailee Brooks to also see court time.
ONU will probably counter with Courtney Cramer, Lindsey Black, Jenna Dirksen, Tori Wyss, and Bullimore. In the Polar Bears’ 2OT win against MC, Bullimore — who is averaging 17.3 points per game — was the only starter to score in double digits (25).
But ONU’s bench of Alyssa Manley, Alexis Kirkbride, Abby Weeks, Cheyenne Raker, and Emily Mescher really stepped up, outpointing Marietta’s, 46-22.
The 5-3 Manley, in particular, really hurt the Pioneers with a career-high 15 points.
“Ohio Northern is well-coached, has the best player (Bullimore) in the league, and a great supporting cast around her,” Vivian said. “They’ve got a lot of stars.”
The Pioneers have quite a few of their own — and now is their time to shine brightly like never before.