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Women's Basketball Opens Season with 61-59 Victory at ONU

Photo by ONU's Hailey Green
Photo by ONU's Hailey Green

ADA, Ohio - The Wilmington College women's basketball team snapped a 15-game losing streak to Ohio Northern University (ONU), defeating the Polar Bears 61-59 in Ohio Athletic Conference (OAC) action on Friday evening.

The win marks seven years to the day since the Fightin' Quakers have beaten the Polar Bears. Additionally, it's Wilmington's first victory inside the ONU Sports Center since Feb. 11, 2009.

"I am so happy for our players to get a chance to compete," Interim Head Women's Basketball Coach Janel Blankespoor said. "Tonight was a sense of normalcy, within the lines of the basketball court, that we haven't experienced in nearly a year."

ONU jumped out to a 6-0 lead by hitting its first two triple tries, but WC's defense would crack down and not allow another point for four minutes. During that stretch, three different Quakers scored to give the visitors a 7-6 advantage. The Polar Bears, who led by a basket after the first quarter, mirrored their performance in the second quarter by scoring the first six points. Facing an eight-point deficit, Hannah Binkley splashed one of her three triples on the night and Zahrya Bailey added two baskets to get back within four points (32-28). ONU's Sydney Ward tallied the half's final basket as the Polar Bears took a 34-28 lead into the locker room.

Despite a slow start to the third quarter, the period proved to be Wilmington's best as the Quakers outscored their opponents 16-7 in the session to take a 44-41 lead into the final 10 minutes. Neither team led by more than a possession nearly the entire quarter until two Bailey free throws with a minute to play gave WC a 61-56 advantage.

Not to be deterred, a Lexi Jacobs triple pulled ONU back within two and a defensive stop gave the Polar Bears back possession with 30 seconds to play down 61-59. A potential game-winning triple from Jacobs was well short, and despite the Polar Bears getting one more chance with less than a second to play, WC's defense held true.

Both teams took 61 shots from the field, but Wilmington made three more (24-21). But squads also finished 32 percent from three-point range and took a dozen free throws. ONU won the rebounding battle 43-37 while also dishing out more assists (17-11).

Individually, the Binkley sisters led the way with McKayla's 18 points on 8-of-12 shooting to go along with seven rebounds while Hannah scored 16 points. Bailey also finished in double figures, delivering a 13-point performance off the bench.

Kate Iliff was the lone Polar Bear to finish in double figures with 10 points.

"The areas of emphasis that we honed in on since day one showed substantial growth tonight," said Blankespoor. "We still have a lot of improve on, but I am so proud of our intensity, leadership and grit tonight."

Wilmington will host ONU tomorrow (Saturday) at 6 p.m.