By Tim Glon
HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. — The Ohio Northern men's basketball team put a scare into NCAA Division I foe Northern Kentucky, as ONU wrapped up the exhibition portion of its schedule with a tight 81-76 loss Saturday afternoon at BB&T Arena.
The Polar Bears went 3-2 in their five exhibition games, posting a 3-1 record with split squads on a Canadian tour during the school's Fall Break on Oct. 9-13.
Junior Devon Allen led Ohio Northern with 28 points, including 7-of-14 shooting from 3-point range.
Sophomore Nate Burger added 12 points for ONU.
Northern Kentucky was led by Jalen Billups with 31 points and eight rebounds.
The Norse scored the first 11 points of the game and led by as many as 36-21 before settling for a 37-24 halftime lead.
The Polar Bears rallied in the second half and got within 49-42 after junior Joey Hurless made three free throws with 13:37 left in the game.
NKU pushed the lead to 55-42, but Northern again got within seven at 59-52 on a basket by sophomore Joey DiOrio with 7:40 remaining.
A basket by Burger got ONU within 62-57 with 6:14 left in the game.
Allen's seventh 3-pointer of the game pulled the Polar Bears within 69-68 with 3:51 to play.
But the Norse would answer with an 8-2 run to push their lead to 77-70 with 2:31 left and ONU would not get within five points the rest of the way.
ONU made 24-of-63 field goal attempts for 38.1 percent and were 11-of-28 from 3-point range for 39.3 percent. Northern was an impressive 18-for-18 from the foul line for 94.4 percent.
NKU was 29-of-58 from the floor for 50 percent, but was just 4-of-16 from beyond the are for 25 percent.
Northern Kentucky out-rebounded Northern 39-33.
Ohio Northern will open its 2015-16 season Nov. 14 at home with Alma (Mich.) at 6 pm in a rare double header with the ONU football team, who hosts Otterbein at 1:30 pm that afternoon.