Morgan Shriver said her team is a second-half team.
And for the first 10 and a half minutes of the second half, the Heidelberg women's basketball team proved that to be true Wednesday night against No. 23 Ohio Northern University.
That second half team took a seven-point deficit at half, 29-22, and took a lead midway through the second half. Shelby Dearth buried a 3-pointer to tie it at 45 with 9:17 to go in the game.
But after that the Student Princes offense plummeted like the temperatures outside Seiberling Gymnasium. The 'Berg went 0 of 8 from the field and had five turnovers in next seven minutes. That's all the opening the Polar Bears needed to pull away with the 62-54 victory.
"We're a second-half team and we always seem to dig a hole in the first half and have to fight back from that," Shriver said. "We were able to come back and take the lead. It took us quite a while to score. After that, we gave up some fouls that sent them to the line and gave them some free points. I feel like we started to lose our edge and stopped doing what we were doing well because we can only get in our press when we score. And we weren't scoring."
The loss marked Heidelberg's 10th straight against the Polar Bears, as Ohio Northern has won 17 of its last 18 games against the Student Princes.
ONU (18-4, 11-4 Ohio Athletic Conference) held Heidelberg to 32 percent shooting the night. But the 'Berg defense caused problems for ONU as well, forcing 19 turnovers.
"I'm just really happy we got out of here with the win," Ohio Northern University coach Michele Durand said. "Heidelberg does that to us. They do a really good job of speeding us up and taking us out of what we want to do. They play kind of helter skelter like that, which makes us sometimes play like that. I give them credit. They did a good job of taking us out of what we wanted to do."
The Polar Bears went into halftime up seven, but an 11-4 HU spurt to start the second half tied the game at 33 at the 16:13 mark. Kathleen Phillips scored nine of her game-high 23 points in that span. Three and a half minutes later, Molly Schriber had a stick back to give Heidelberg its first lead since it was 2-0.
"When we started believing we could win, we were able to come back and take the lead when we stuck to the game plan," Shriver said.
The two teams traded leads until it was 45-45 all and ONU began a 13-2 run before Heidelberg could get a field goal with 1:51 to go to stop the bleeding. The Allie Hawkins' jumper, two of her 12 points off the bench, made the score 58-49.
"I don't know if we didn't know how to handle that lead," Shriver said. When adversity started coming our way, we didn't fight back. We just kept rolling into it. They would score three points and then we'd turn it over. It just kept rolling downhill from there. I think we started to lose that belief that we should win this game."
Hawkins' buried a 3-pointer to cut the lead to six but the Student Princes (11-11, 4-11 OAC) didn't get any closer.
"Our defense really did a great job. I thought our defense was playing well at halftime," Durand said. "We locked down on them in the second half. I think when we needed to, we got stops and eek out some scores on the other end. That's what I told them tonight would win the game: our defense."
Jordan Kimes (22 points and 10 rebounds) and Cenzie Yoder (12 points and 7 rebounds) punished Heidelberg with its size advantage.
"We definitely have a size advantage and the do a great job of pinching in on us and taking that away from us," Durand said. "But I think it helped us a little bit in the second half. When we needed some scores, we were able to get some inside."
ONU held a 43-30 rebounding advantage in the game. Kyra Dorney pulled down eight in the loss.
"Their size did hurt us because we try to play fast and little instead of big and long," Shriver said. "We don't have that big, long, fast person like they do. So the rebounding definitely hurt when we would go to double their posts, the backside rebounds were there and they would get the misses."
Phillips' 23 points left her just 16 points away from passing Connie Sanford for third-place on Heidelberg's all-time scoring list.