By Tim Glon
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The Ohio Northern men's basketball team opened its 2013-14 season with a thrilling 79-77 victory over Buffalo State (N.Y.) in the first round of the Buffalo State Coles Classic Friday night at the Buffalo State Sports Arena.
The Polar Bears improve to 1-0, while the Bengals fall to 2-1.
Senior Branden Rushton hit a slashing layup with 20 seconds left in the game to break a 77-77 tie and give ONU the victory.
Senior Dominique Royal posted his first career double-double to lead the Polar Bears, scoring 21 points and a grabbing a career-high 10 rebounds.
Northern used a 17-5 run to take a 42-31 lead at the half and led 76-65 with 4:19 left in the game after a 3-pointer by freshman Alex Meyer.
But BSC rallied with a 12-1 run to tie the game at 77-all after a steal and layup by Justin Mitchell.
Rushton then drove to the basket and scored with 20 seconds left to put ONU ahead 79-77.
Mitchell missed a short jumper with four seconds to play and the Polar Bears held on for the win.
Northern out-rebounded BSC 41-28.
In the first game of the tournament, John Carroll defeated Johnson & Wales (R.I.) 87-74.
ONU will face Johnson & Wales on Saturday at 2 pm with John Carroll and Buffalo State wrapping up the tournament at approximately 4 pm.