Rushton scores 23 as Men's Basketball falls 88-80 in home opener to Bethany (W.Va.)

Rushton scores 23 as Men's Basketball falls 88-80 in home opener to Bethany (W.Va.)

By Tim Glon

ADA — Senior Branden Rushton led five Ohio Northern players in double figures in scoring with a season-high 23 points in an 88-80 non-conference men's basketball loss to Bethany (W.Va.) Saturday afternoon at the ONU Sports Center.

The Polar Bears fall to 2-2 overall, while the Bison improve to 4-0.

Junior Lucas Pennington scored 14 points, junior Jordan Martin scored 13 points, junior Isaiah Roux scored 11 points and senior Dominique Royal added 10 points for ONU.

Bethany also had five players score in double figures, led by Kevin Jackson with 22 points and Leslie Addy with 21 points and a game-high 10 rebounds.

The Polar Bears handled the Bison full-court pressure well in the first half and used transition baskets to take a 38-32 halftime lead.

But in the second half, the BC pressure was a factor, as Bethany out-scored ONU 20-0 in points off of turnovers in the final 20 minutes.

"We handled the pressure well in the first half, but not in the second half," ONU head coach Kevin Byrne said. "I'm not sure what changed in the second half. We need to be smarter with the ball and a little bit tougher under pressure."

Northern used a 10-2 run to take a 32-22 lead with 5:24 left in the first half.

A 3-pointer by Martin and a basket by Roux in the first minute of the second half forced a quick Bethany timeout and gave the Polar Bears a 43-32 advantage.

Two free throws by Rushton gave ONU a 49-39 lead with 16:14 to play, but the Bison responded with a 12-2 run to tie the game at 51-51 with 13:24 remaining.

A 7-0 BC run gave the visitors the lead for good at 60-55 with 8:59 left.

A pair of free throws by Royal pulled ONU within 66-63 with 6:40 to go before Bethany pushed its lead to 74-65 with 5:41 left.

Roux converted a 3-point play and Martin followed with a layup to pull Northern within 76-74 with 2:50 to play and two more free throws by Rushton made it an 80-78 game with 1:56 left.

But BC got a basket by Addy and then made 6-of-8 free throws in the final 47 seconds to put the game away.

Northern made 28-of-64 field goal attempts for 43.8 percent, while Bethany made 30-of-60 for 50.0 percent.

BC out-rebounded ONU 37-33 and each team had 16 turnovers.

The Polar Bears were outstanding at the foul line, making 18-of-20 for 90.0 percent.

ONU will begin Ohio Athletic Conference action Wednesday with a 7:30 pm contest against Baldwin Wallace at the ONU Sports Center.