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Season of Firsts

ONU women’s basketball makes history with unforgettable season.

They say that all good things must come to an end, and this weekend the Ohio Northern University women’s basketball team learned that the same holds for truly great things.

The 2016-17 Polar Bears will go down in ONU sports history as the school’s greatest women’s basketball team. The Ohio Athletic Conference (OAC) champions were dominant, going undefeated in the regular season (28-0) for the first time in school history. They parlayed that success to a No. 5 ranking and an invitation to the NCAA Division III Tournament, where they reached two more milestones in advancing to the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight rounds for the first time. The Polar Bears ended the season with an overall 30-1 record, becoming the first team in ONU’s 107-year basketball history with 30 wins.

The Polar Bears bear one of the trademarks of a truly great team — non-complacency. Always anticipating the next challenge in line, the team kept its eye on the prize, and ultimately, the team battled to the very end with powerful tenacity.

Over the course of the season, the team blazed a path of success littered with monumental first accomplishments and broken records.

With the team making its fourth NCAA Division III Tournament appearance in the past five seasons, head coach Michele Durand has certainly found the sweet spot, bringing out the best in each team she coaches. Durand first took the helm during the 2001-02 season, and she comes away from this season with a total of 275 wins under her belt in her 16 seasons at ONU, tying her with former Polar Bear head coach Gayle Lauth as the winningest coach in school history. In addition, Durand earned OAC Coach of the Year honors for the third time in her ONU coaching career.

Several of the team’s players have stacked up some impressive career accolades this season as well.

Senior Britt Lauck is now only the 14th player in school history to hit the 1,000-point mark, and she holds the single season record for both assists (112) and free throw percentage (.880). In addition, Lauck was named the Ohio Athletic Conference Player of the Year and led a list of three Polar Bear players named to the All-Conference teams in 2017.

Lauck and junior Amy Bullimore both earned First Team All-OAC honors for the second consecutive season, while sophomore Jenna Dirksen was named Honorable Mention All-OAC, earning her first All-Conference honor.

Undoubtedly, this season of firsts has made an indelible mark on ONU and its coaches, players and fans, and it will certainly go down in history as a season never to be forgotten.