Saturday women: Winner take some

More news about: FDU-Florham | Ohio Northern | St. Thomas
Amy Bullimore finished with 25 points, including her first three-pointer of the season that tied the game at 79 in the closing seconds of overtime.
File photo by Ohio Northern University athletics

While teams will have to wait until the conference playoffs begin next week to claim automatic bids to the NCAA Tournament, today a handful of teams secured the right to host those playoffs with wins in de facto regular season title games.

Despite stumbling into its showdown with Marietta, No. 21 Ohio Northern defeated the Pioneers 93-85 in double-overtime to sweep the regular season series and lock up the top spot in the OAC tournament. The Polar Bears, who lost their previous two games, held a 13-point lead with one minute to play in the third quarter following two free throws from Emily Mescher. Marietta responded with a 10-0 run and then evetually pulled even at 62 midway through the fourth quarter. The Pioneers had three chances to win the game in the final minute but missed two free throws and a three-pointer.

In the first overtime Ohio Northern's Amy Bullimore hit her first three-pointer of the season with four seconds left to tie the game at 79 and force a second extra period. In the second overtime Ohio Northern went six for six from the foul line in the final minute to finally seal the victory. Bullimore finished with 25 points and 16 rebounds for Ohio Northern (20-4, 14-3) before fouling out. Corrie Burkhardt scored 26 and grabbed nine rebounds for Marietta (21-3, 14-3).

No. 8 St. Thomas won its fourth consecutive MIAC title with a 67-64 win at home over No. 23 St. Benedict. The Tommies jumped out to a 33-10 lead at the end of one period, but the Blazers responded with a strong second quarter and had multiple chances to tie the game in the fourth quarter. Lucia Renikoff's three-pointer with 1:30 remaining proved to be the winning shot. Hannah Spaulding had 20 points in 23 minutes for the Tommies (23,2, 18-0), who have won 52 consecutive games against MIAC foes. Niki Fokken scored 25 points for St. Benedict (22-3, 16-2), which will be the second seed in the MIAC tournament.

No. 20 Marymount won hosting rights during the CAC tournament with a stellar defensive effort and some help from York (Pa.). In the afternoon the Saints shut down Mary Washington 49-36 and completed a 21-3, 16-1 regular season record. Leah Hurst scored a team-high 11 points including the 1000th of her career for Marymount. Then in the evening York shot 52 percent in an 87-85 win at No. 12 Christopher Newport, which gave the Saints the top spot in the conference.

No. 17 Illinois Wesleyan guaranteed itself at least a share of the CCIW title with an 85-77 win at Carthage. Four Titans scored double figures led by Rebekah Ehresman with 21. The Titans can win the title outright by beating Elmhurst on Tuesday night. Wheaton (Ill.) kept pace with Illinois Wesleyan for now by clobbering North Central (Ill.), 67-30. The Thunder have not allowed more than 60 points in a game since the Dec. 29 loss to Scranton.

FDU-Florham pulled away from King's in the fourth quarter and claimed the top spot in the MAC Freedom playoffs, 75-62. Kendrea Williams and Gabrielle Harris had seven points apiece, mostly from the foul line, in the final period for the Devils (19-6, 12-2).

Not all conference races had a tidy ending. The MIAA's top spot came down to a coin flip after No. 5 Hope blasted Olivet 87-48 and No. 6 Trine topped Kalamazoo 69-46. The Flying Dutch won the coin toss and will host Calvin in the MIAA semifinals on Friday, while Trine plays Albion.

No. 4 Thomas More's final regular season game in the PAC was fittingly a lopsided win. The Saints, which will leave the conference at the end of this season, rolled over Washington and Jefferson 92-42, giving them a conference record of 173-5 since 2006-07 and five consecutive undefeated seasons in the PAC. Madison Temple flirted with a triple-double (24 points, 16 rebounds, eight assists) and Abby Owings pulled within 15 points of becoming the program's all-time leading scorer.

The top three seeds advanced through the NESCAC quarterfinals without any trouble. No. 1 Amherst, which will host the semifinals and final next weekend, took care of Trinity (Conn.), 56-34. No. 3 Bowdoin crushed Williams 77-35 and No. 10 Tufts handled Connecticut College 85-48. Those three will be joined by fifth-seed Wesleyan (Conn.) which edged Middlebury 63-62 behind Maddie Bledsoe's 22 points and 11 rebounds.

No. 2 Wartburg completed its perfect run through the regular season with a 73-52 win at Central. Wartburg (25-0, 16-0) is just the third team to go undefeated in the IIAC, joining Simpson in 1998-99 and the Knights themselves in 1990-91.