By Caleb Scott
ADA — Junior Ryan Bruns (Chickasaw/Marion Local) used a 30-point effort, while senior Nate Burger (Dayton/Alter) flirted with a triple-double to lead the Ohio Northern men's basketball team to an 86-82 victory over visiting Mount Union on Saturday afternoon at the ONU Sports Center.
The Polar Bears improve to 5-2 overall and stand atop the Ohio Athletic Conference standings as the only remaining undefeated team at 3-0 in conference play, while the Purple Raiders drop to 6-2, 2-1.
Bruns tallied his second 30-point game of the season as he scored a game-high 30 points on 12-of-20 shooting from the field. The junior also added six rebounds.
Burger posted a solid stat line, scoring 21 points, adding a game-high 11 rebounds and dishing out a game-best six assists.
The Polar Bears came out firing as they used a quick 9-0 run capped by a jumper from Bruns to force a MtU timeout just under four minutes into the contest.
From there, the Purple Raiders would chip away at the lead and use a 10-2 run to cut the ONU lead to 11-10 with 12:02 left in the first half.
Northern would stretch the lead to as many as 21-14 in the first half, before MtU took its first lead of the evening with 4:14 left in the first half following a 3-pointer from D'Vontay Friga.
After a 3-pointer from DiOrio gave Northern a 40-39 lead with 1:26 left in the half, the Purple Raiders would hit 3-of-4 free throws to take a 42-40 lead into the break.
The two teams would exchange leads throughout the first five minutes of the second half before a 3-pointer from DiOrio with 14:23 remaining in the contest gave ONU a 53-51 lead.
After Mount Union answered with a layup, sophomore Christiaan Williams (Sidney/Anna) found Bruns, who finished with an emphatic two-handed dunk with 13:39 left in the second half to help shift the momentum in ONU's favor.
With ONU leading 58-55 with 12:16 remaining, Northern used a 10-0 run capped by a layup from Waugh to grab its largest lead of the evening at 68-55 with 9:57 left to play.
MtU was able to cut back into the lead to pull within 72-70 with 2:39 remaining in the contest, but Northern would go 12-of-13 from the free throw line down the stretch to close the door and claim the victory.
"Bruns and Burger are kind of our guys and they played really well today," said head coach Rich Bensman. "They definitely earned everything today. That was a really good Mount Union team we just beat and it took a total team effort. This team really focuses a lot on the standards that we set for ourselves and I think we really met that mark this afternoon."
The Polar Bears shot 28-of-61 (45.9 percent) from the field, including 5-of-9 (55.6 percent) from 3-point range, while the Purple Raiders were 25-of-60 (41.7 percent) from the field, including 7-of-23 (30.4 percent) from 3-point range.
Both teams recorded 39 rebounds on the afternoon, while ONU outscored MtU in the paint 37-26.
The Polar Bears return to action on Saturday as they travel to University Heights to take on John Carroll for a 2 pm tipoff.