Wittenberg Defeats Ohio Northern, 68-57

The Wittenberg University Tigers, fresh off a 24-5 season in 2002-03 that included North Coast Athletic Conference regular season and tournament championships, got off to a positive start against the Ohio Northern University Polar Bears, winning the second Kiwanis-Wittenberg Tip-Off Classic semifinal by a score of 68-57.

The Tigers won their Kiwanis opener for the 17th straight year, dating back to an 81-61 defeat against Urbana in 1986. Wittenberg slowly pulled away in this one after taking the lead for good on the 4:39 mark of the first half as Christina Fischer canned a three-pointer to give the Tigers a 20-18 advantage. That lead moved out to 28-22 by the halftime intermission and eventually reached 17 points with 2:45 remaining in the second half on a pair of free throws by Haley Warden.

Wittenberg was led offensively by freshman Kathy Hittle, who had 19 points and five rebounds, including three offensive. She hit 6-of-10 from the field and 7-of-9 from the free throw line in a stellar collegiate debut. Warden, the team's leading rebounder in 2002-03, finished with 13 points and a game- and career-high 14 boards, in addition to six assists and two steals. Also reaching double figures in points was senior Christina Fischer, who had 11 points on 4-of-6 shooting from the field.

Ohio Northern was led by Kendra Bailey with 14 points and four rebounds and Alyssa Rickert with 13 points and five boards. However, the Polar Bears were outrebounded 43-33 and shot just 37 percent from the field (21-of-56).

Wittenberg advanced to the Kiwanis-Wittenberg Tip-Off Classic Championship game on Saturday at 6 p.m. against Hope College, a 77-44 winner over Brockport State in the other semifinal game. Ohio Northern, which was 7-18 overall in 2002-03, will play in the consolation game at 1 p.m. on Saturday against Brockport State.