Hanover’s Katie Gahimer lifts a shot over two Ohio Northern defenders during Friday’s NCAA Tournament game in Holland, Mich. The Panthers hung tough but lost 86-68.<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->(Photo by Carter Cloyd, Hanover College)
Hanover’s Katie Gahimer lifts a shot over two Ohio Northern defenders during Friday’s NCAA Tournament game in Holland, Mich. The Panthers hung tough but lost 86-68.

(Photo by Carter Cloyd, Hanover College)
Hanover hung tough with third-ranked Ohio Northern but came up short, 86-68, in the opening round of the NCAA Division III Women's Basketball Tournament in Holland, Mich. on Friday.

The Panthers trailed 38-32 at halftime and only 65-57 with just over eight minutes to play.

But Ohio Northern (27-1) - winners of 26 straight - pulled away over the final eight minutes to seal the win.

"They definitely have got the better team. They have got the guards. The have got the post players. They have got it all," Hanover coach Molly Jones said. "They shot a great shooting percentage tonight. They have been doing that to teams all year long. I feel like we got beat by a better team."

Natalie Morse scored seven points, while Courtney Prater and Ashley Malloy added six each to keep Hanover within 38-32 at the half.

Katie Gahimer hit two buckets to help Hanover creep within 40-38 just two minutes into the second period. However, the Polar Bears, fueled by six straight points by Taylor Hermiller, answered with a 12-1 run through the next two minutes to seize a 52-39 lead with 15:34 left in the game.

The Panthers rallied over the following seven minutes. Alicia Hopkins scored eight points and Prater added five as Hanover cut the margin to eight (65-57) with 8:20 on the clock.

Morgan Dumbaugh had five points, and Katie Mengos added a 3-pointer to nudge Ohio Northern's lead to 75-59 with 4:52 left. The Panthers got no closer than 14 points (75-61) the rest of the way.

"It was a game of runs. We got to the middle of the second half and we just could not push to keep up," Jones said. "We got a little bit frustrated. They made the big shots and we could not answer back. Frustration, I think, took over."

Prater scored 21 points to lead Hanover while Hopkins had 13 points and Morse added 10.

Dumbaugh netted a game-high 22 points and Hermiller added 13 to pace four Ohio Northern players in double figures.

Katie Gahimer, asenior forward from St. Paul, led Hanover with seven rebounds, while Prater pulled down five.

Ohio Northern held a massive 43-25 advantage in rebounds, a big factor in the outcome.

"They are the best rebounding team we have faced all year. Best team we have faced all year," Jones said. "That is why I say we did get beat by a better team. They can do it all. They block out. They have size that we don't have. They were bigger at every single position and used that to their advantage. They just worked so hard on the boards. Just so impressive."

Hanover, making its third appearance in the national tournament, was 21-8 to mark the program's school-record fourth-straight 20-win season.

The Panthers' senior class, including Prater, Morse, Gahimer, Katie Brewer and injured guard Amanda Trambaugh will graduate with the most wins of any class in school history, 87.

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NCAA D-III TOURNAMENT

at Holland, Mich.

First Round

No. 3 OHIO NORTHERN 86, HANOVER 66



HANOVER (21-8) - (f)Prater 21, (g)Hopkins 13, (f)Morse 10, (c)Gahimer 6, Malloy 6, Caudill 5, Brewer 3, (g)Watson 2, Weddle 2, Tubb 0, Pahren 0, Dilley 0.

OHIO NORTHERN (27-1) - (f)Dumbaugh 22, (g)Hermiller 13, (f)Snyder 12, (c)Yoder 11, Kimes 9, (g)Mengos 7, Espenschied 7, Clark 3, Kocian 2, Saine 0, Jones 0, Miller 0.



Halftime - Ohio Northern 38-32. 3-Point Goals - Hanover 6 (Malloy 2, Morse 1, Hopkins 1, Caudill 1, Brewer 1), Ohio Northern 9 (Dumbaugh 3, Hermiller 2, Mengos 1, Clark 1, Espenschied 1, Kimes 1). Rebounds - Hanover 25 (Gahimer 7), Ohio Northern 43 (Yoder 8). Assists - Hanover 15 (Hopkins 4, Watson 4), Ohio Northern 20 (Snyder 4, Dumbaugh 4, Yoder 4). Turnovers - Hanover 15, Ohio Northern 18. Total Fouls - Hanover 18, Ohio Northern 13. Free Throws - Hanover 14-18 (78%), Ohio Northern 17-22 (77%). Fouled Out - None. Next Game - Hanover's season ends. Ohio Northern faces Hope in the second round today.