Big night from Aron Thress leads Men's Basketball to 77-74 victory over Heidelberg

Big night from Aron Thress leads Men's Basketball to 77-74 victory over Heidelberg

By Caleb Scott

ADA -- The Ohio Northern men's basketball team came out strong in the first half en route to a 77-74 victory over Heidelberg Wednesday afternoon at the ONU Sports Center.

The Polar Bears improve to 10-12 overall and 7-8 in the Ohio Athletic Conference, while the Student Princes fall to 11-11, 6-9.

Junior Aron Thress led the way for Northern with a game-high 25 points and a career-high 18 rebounds. 

Junior Joey Hurless dished out three assists to give him a school record and NCAA Division III-leading 174 on the season, breaking ONU's single-season assist record of 171 set by Kevin Sensabaugh in 1998-99.

After falling behind 13-11, sophomore Nate Burger would score five quick points to give Northern the 16-13 lead with 11:18 remaining in the first half. 

After Heidelberg answered with three points, the Polar Bears would go on a 12-3 run capped off by a three pointer from sophomore Ryan Geise to push their lead to 28-19 with 7:12 remaining in the first half.

From there, Ohio Northern would close the half out on a 12-5 run to extend the lead to 40-24 at the intermission after sophomore Grant Pepper rebounded his own missed shot and beat the halftime buzzer with a jumper.

After exchanging baskets on during the first several minutes of the second half, HU was able to string together an 11-3 run to take a 59-57 with 9:57 left in the contest.

The Polar Bears would respond after junior Alex Radkiewicz found sophomore Joey DiOrio for a three pointer to put the Polar Bears ahead 60-59 with 8:46 to play.

From there Heidelberg was able to tie the contest on two separate occasions, but could never regain the lead as Northern finished the game hitting 12-of-13 free throws to seal the victory. 

Thress connected on 15-of-17 free throw attempts, including 8-of-8 in the final eight minutes of regulation.

"We had a great first half," said head coach Kevin Byrne. "We need to finish a little better but I was proud of the effort we showed tonight. We got a break there at the end and we will take it."

Northern shot 22-of-58 (37.9 percent) from the field, including 8-of-24 (33.3 percent) from beyond the arc, while Heidelberg shot 28-of-76 (36.8 percent) from the field, including 9-of-22 (40.9 percent) from the 3-point line. 

The Polar Bears won the rebounding battle by a 51-42 margin.

Northern will return to action Saturday afternoon as they travel to New Concord to take on the Muskies at 3 pm at Performance Court.