Spartans Suffer First Loss of Season; Fall to ONU 71-57

Spartans Suffer First Loss of Season; Fall to ONU 71-57

The Case Western Reserve University women's basketball team saw its four-game season-opening winning streak come to a close on Wednesday night, as the Spartans dropped a 71-57 contest to Ohio Northern University at Horsburgh Gymnasium in Cleveland, Ohio.

The Spartans fell to 4-1 on the year with the loss, while Ohio Northern, which received votes in this week's D3hoops.com Top-25, improved to 5-0.

Three CWRU players scored in double figures on Wednesday, including senior Hillary Hellmann, who led all Spartans with 17 points and nine rebounds, shooting six-of-11 overall, including four-of-eight from three-point range, while adding a pair of blocks.  Graduate student forward Kara Hageman finished the game with 16 points on seven-of-14 shooting, securing five rebounds, three assists and four blocks.  Graduate student forward Mercedes Jones added 10 points in the game for CWRU.

Jones paced the Spartans early, accounting for six of the team's 11 points in the opening quarter, but it was not enough to counter the Polar Bears' long-range attack.  Ohio Northern connected on four-of-seven tries from three-point range in the first 10 minutes, taking a 21-11 lead into the second quarter.   A quick pair of baskets to start the period increased the Polar Bears' lead to 14 by the 8:00 mark, before a three-pointer by Hellmann cut the lead back down to 11.  Ohio Northern led by as many as 16 in the opening half, but another three by Hellmann helped CWRU cut the lead to single digits, 38-29, by halftime.

Hellmann led the Spartans with 10 points in the first half, with Hageman adding nine and Jones eight.

Hageman connected on a three to start the second half, trimming the Ohio Northern lead back to six, before a 6-0 run expanded the Polar Bears' lead back to double-digits.  However, the Spartans continued to chip away at the advantage, with Hellmann knocking down a three with 3:58 remaining in the third quarter to cut the lead to 50-44.  Later in the quarter, freshman guard Alyssa Hyland made a three of her own to bring the Spartans back within two, 50-48, and cap off a 10-0 CWRU run.  Ohio Northern responded with a 7-0 run of its own to close out the half, taking a 57-48 lead into the final period.

Ohio Northern's run continued into the fourth quarter, with the Polar Bears outscoring the Spartans 8-2 over the opening five minutes of the period to put the game out of reach.

Jenna Dirksen scored a game-high 20 for Ohio Northern, while Emily Mescher (18 points, 10 rebounds) and Tori Wyss (11 points, 11 rebounds) each notched double-doubles.

Hageman's four blocks in the game were a season-high, and give her 101 for her career, as she became just the fifth player in school history to eclipse the century mark in career blocks.

The Spartans will complete their three-game home stand on Saturday, December 8th, when the team plays host to 23rd-ranked Baldwin Wallace University at 2:00 p.m.