GREENCASTLE, Ind. -- Not even Ohio Northern's 13 made shots from outside the arc could silence Transylvania on Friday evening, as the Pioneers beat No.21 Ohio Northern 79-71 in a physical matchup in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
It was Transylvania's poise at the free-throw line and even scoring balance that solidified the victory. Transylvania managed 21 points, hitting 95.5 percent from the charity stripe, to Ohio Northern's four. Five Pioneers also netted double-figures, including freshman Jordin Fender off the bench. Sophomore Katelyn Smith and junior Alex McKenzie led the Pioneers in scoring, recording 16 points each.
Freshman Jordin Fender netted 15 points of her own, followed by 14 points each from senior Madisen Webb and junior HCAC-MVP Nicole Coffman.
It was a tough first half for Transylvania's three-headed monster attack of Webb, Coffman and Smith, as the ONU Polar Bears successfully shut out the trio, allowing only nine points five rebounds between them.
It was freshman Jordin Fender who turned the tide, sparking six quick points in her first two minutes of play to push the Transylvania advantage to 13-8.
The Pioneers maintained a slim lead in the following minutes, pushing the advantage to a game-high eight points at the 10-minute mark. But, the Polar Bears wouldn't go down without a fight. The team rallied on two back-to-back 3-pointers by Kaitlyn Theisen, bringing them within one, 24-23.
Despite the Pioneers' efforts to maintain a sizable advantage, the Polar Bears continued to fight, pulling within one at the 4-minute mark thanks to hot-shot shooting from behind the arc, 28-27. A bucket in the paint by McKenzie pushed the lead back to four, 31-27, the last points of the half.
Ohio Northern came out swinging in the second, gaining a one-point lead just a minute into the half off a 3-pointer and jumper by Jordan Kimes, netting the Polar Bears their first lead since four minutes into the game.
With 17 minutes on the clock, the Polar Bears pushed the advantage to five with their sixth trey. For nine minutes, the Pioneers would battle to regain the lead, pushing their way into the paint for 24 of their second-half points. It would be the full-court defensive pressure, forcing nine second-half turnovers that would help swing the momentum in Transylvania's favor.
At the 7:50 mark, the Pioneers tied the game at 58-all with a layup by Fender in the paint. From there, Transylvania would go on an 8-0 run during two minutes, gaining a 66-58 advantage with 5:29 left in the contest.
Ohio Northern's 3-point shooting ran out of steam in the final minutes, missing three shots in the last five minutes. The poor shooting gave the Pioneers the advantage on the boards, resulting in six vital free throws down the stretch to secure the eight-point win, 79-71 at the buzzer.
The win continues Transylvania's two-year long road winning streak and solidifies a second-round appearance, facing reigning DIII national champion DePauw on Saturday.