By Tim Glon
WESTERVILLE — Senior Nate Burger (Dayton/Alter) scored a career-high 41 points to lead Ohio Northern to an 82-68 men's basketball victory at Otterbein on Wednesday evening at the Rike Center.
The Polar Bears move to 17-7 overall and are 12-5 Ohio Athletic Conference, while the Cardinals are now 1-23, 1-16.
Otterbein was led by Matt Hughes with 20 points and Justin Carter with 14.
The Polar Bears went on an 11-0 run, sparked by nine consecutive points by Burger, to grab a 64-48 lead with 9:07 left in the game.
The hosts would get within 10 points in several occasions in the final minutes, but ONU would make eight consecutive free throws down the stretch to ice the game.
"We did a much better job on the boards in the second half," ONU head coach Rich Bensman. "Nate got into a flow and was tremendous tonight. He was very efficient on the offensive end and did a great job getting to the rim in the second half. We made a run in the first half, butdidn't hold the momentum and Otterbein got back into it. Once we made our run in the second half, we did a good job of executing and finishing down the stretch."
The Polar Bears used a 19-0 run to take a 23-9 lead midway through the opening half.
But the Cardinals chipped away at the lead and got within 37-34 at intermission.
ONU played without junior Ryan Bruns (Chickasaw/Marion Local), who was out with an injury suffered against No.24 John Carroll on Saturday. He is listed as day-to-day.
Burger scored his 41 points on 13-of-21 shooting from the floor, 7-of-14 from 3-point range and was a perfect 8-of-8 from the foul line.
It marks the sixth time in his career that Burger surpassed the 30-point plateau.
Northern was 28-of-59 (47.5 percent) from the field and were 7-of-19 from 3-point range (36.8 percent) from 3-point range, while Otterbein was 26-of-66 (39.4 percent) from the field and 9-of-29 (31.0 percent) from the 3-point line.
ONU won the rebounding battle by a 46-29 margin.
The Polar Bears will wrap up their regular season next Saturday with a 2 pm contest against Marietta at the ONU Sports Center on Senior Day.