TIFFIN -- With Christmas less than a week away, the Heidelberg University basketball team opened up their biggest present -- a crucial conference win -- a bit early. The Student Princes defeated visiting Ohio Northern University, 82-77 in overtime, besting the Polar Bears for the first time since 2009. Undeterred by a game-tying 3-pointer at the buzzer in regulation by ONU, The Berg won their first overtime game since a 78-75 win over then-No. 19 John Carroll in 2015.
Alyssa Riley tallied a career-high 28 points on 10-of-17 shooting from the floor, including four 3-pointers. Maddy Crawford, despite having a mere two points and three rebounds at halftime, finished with 16 and 16 -- the sixth double-double of the year for the league's leading rebounder.
"The girls just played with passion and focus for 45 minutes tonight," head coach Morgan Harrigan said about the impressive win. "They've been relentless all week preparing for that game … I'm just very proud of the fight, it's nice to head into Christmas .500."
In a game that featured 11 lead changes, the Student Princes (5-5, 2-3 OAC) trailed by four with 3:25 left to play, 63-59. With a mid-range jumper, Riley ignited a modest 6-0 run that put HU up 65-63.
With 1:10 to play, ONU's Emily Mescher tied the game with a put-back layup. However, Beamer responded with a layup on a nifty backdoor feed from Leah Bouillon. After Jenna Dirksen split a pair at the line, Beamer drilled a set-back jumper to give the Student Princes a 69-66 lead with eight seconds left in the fourth.
Out of a timeout, ONU's Tori Wyss hit a three from the left wing as time expired -- sending the game to overtime.
With ONU (6-4, 1-4 OAC) ahead by two, Crawford was fouled after grabbing an offensive rebound. She sank both free throws, tying the game with 2:20 to play. After a Polar Bear miss, Riley banged home another 3-pointer, staking HU to a 76-73 lead.
Undaunted, the visitors sandwiched two layups around a Heidelberg turnover, regaining the lead with 54 seconds left.
The ONU advantage, however, was short-lived. Crawford banked home a shot from inside the key, putting HU up 78-77 with 38 seconds left. Out of a timeout, ONU worked the ball to Dirksen, its leading scorer. Unable to match her heroics from regulation, the senior drew back iron. Crawford snared the board and was fouled … sinking both free throws yet again.
Once more, Dirksen hoisted a 3-point attempt but came up empty. Crawford iced the game with two more from the line.
"The growth I've seen in this team this year is immense, we're very calm and able to close games which we haven't been able to do in the past … we made some nice stops and kept calm at the line making our free throws."
INSIDE THE BOX SCORE:
Heidelberg was 25-of-31 from the line (80.6%), including a string of 15 straight in the fourth quarter and overtime.
Beamer, Crawford and Aianna Wilson each had three steals.
Crawford drew eight fouls and was a perfect 8-of-8 from the line.
For ONU, Dirksen finished with 20 points and Mescher tallied 18.
The Student Princes debuted their new black Nike uniforms with a script Heidelberg across the chest.
The Berg will enjoy the holidays before returning to action on December 28 at the Wittenberg Kiwanis Holiday Classic vs. Kalamazoo College. Tip is scheduled for 2:15 p.m.