ALLIANCE, Ohio – Mount Union's men's basketball team improved to 2-1 overall with an 80-74 win over Penn State-Behrend (2-1) in the home-opener in the McPherson Academic and Athletic Complex.
The Raiders were paced by sophomore point guard Nathan Bower-Malone (Stow/Stow) who totaled a career-high 19 points on 6-9 shooting and 3-5 from behind the arc along with four assists on the night.
A fast-paced and well shot first half saw the score 46-40. Senior guard JJ Kukura (Alliance/Alliance) and Bower-Malone led the Raiders in the half with 10 points with both making four shots. Both teams shot above 50 percent in the half as Mount Union was 19-32 for 59.4 percent and 8-11 from three point range for 72.7 percent. Behrend was 13-23 for 56.5 percent from the floor and 5-11 from distance. With the score tied at 33 with five minutes in the half the Raiders went on a 13-7 run to end the half.
The second half was a half of runs. The Raiders began by doubling their lead up to 12 within the first two minutes with three point baskets from Andrew Francesconi (Tallmadge/Tallmadge) and Diallo Niamke (Sagamore Hills/Nordonia). That lead did not last long, however, as the Lions went on a 15-3 run to tie the game at 55 with just under 11 minutes to go in the game. That run from Behrend was answered by a 12-4 run for the Raiders led by a three and a floater by Bower-Malone to give the Raiders a 67-59 lead.
The Lions were able to cut the lead down to five when Bower-Malone sealed the game at the free throw line hitting all four of his free throws on the night in the last 30 seconds.
For the game, the Raiders shot 55.6 percent from the floor on 30-54 shooting and 12-23 from distance. Behrend also shot the ball well as they posted a 53.2 percentage but struggled from distance only going 9-23. Francesconi led Mount Union in assists with five while Kukura led the team in rebounds with eight.
Mount Union will head to Albion (Mich.) for their next contest on Saturday, November 25th at 3 p.m.