By Ashley Birchmeier
WESTERVILLE — The Ohio Northern men's basketball team held off a late Otterbein rally to win 87-84 Wednesday evening in its Ohio Athletic Conference opener at the Rike Center.
The Polar Bears improve to 4-2 overall, 1-0 OAC, while Otterbein falls to 1-5, 0-1.
Northern was led in the contest by junior Devon Allen with a team-high 21 points.
Allen would shoot a perfect 13-for-13 from the free-throw line, making 10 in the final minute of play.
In the first half, the Polar Bears would fall behind early but a three from Baker with 15:39 to play would give ONU the 11-9 advantage.
The two teams would exchange points for several minutes before Northern was able to string together a 9-0 run and take the 26-20 advantage with 7:19 remaining till the break.
With 2:02 to play till halftime, the Polar Bears would put together another 5-0 run led Thress to take the 40-34 halftime advantage.
In the second half, Thress would extend the ONU lead once more as he made a free throw with 16:32 to play extending the ONU lead to 46-36.
Otterbein would slowly begin to cut into that lead as a layup from junior Bryan Mackenzie would pull the Cardinals within 50-43.
Northern continued to work as a three pointer from sophomore Joey DiOrio with 10:29 left in the contest would push ONU to the 61-48 advantage.
With 3:31 remaining in the contest, Otterbein would string together a key 10-0 run that would cut the ONU lead to 77-73.
Allen would finish the last minute of competition shooting a perfect 10-for-10 from the free throw line to hold off the charging Cardinals for the 87-84 victory.
Otterbein was led in the contest by junior Jake Phillis with a game-high 25 points.
Northern returns to action Saturday as they host OAC foe John Carroll at 3 pm.