Men's Basketball: Raiders Win OAC Opener With Strong Second Half

Nathan Bower-Malone (Photo by: JT Higgins)
Nathan Bower-Malone (Photo by: JT Higgins)

WILMINGTON, Ohio -- Mount Union's men's basketball won their Ohio Athletic Conference opener on the road at Wilmington by a final score of 76-73 on Saturday.

The Purple Raiders were led by sophomore point guard Nathan Bower-Malone (Stow/Stow) who had a career-high 20 points, six rebounds and four assists on the night. Mount Union had four players in double figures for the game.

Turnovers were an issue for the Raiders in the first half as Wilmington capitalized with 16 points off of 11 Mount Union giveaways. Mount Union got out to a 14-9 lead after a Thomas Mason (Alliance/Marlington) bucket but a 10-2 run by the Quakers got them a 19-16 lead. Each team went three minutes without scoring a bucket midway through the first half. The largest lead of the first half was seven for Wilmington when they went on a 10-5 run to head into the locker room with a 36-29 lead.

Wilmington pushed the lead to nine at the beginning of the second half, but a 10-3 Mount Union run led by junior Diallo Niamke (Sagamore Hills/Nordonia), who had four out of the ten points in the run, cut the Quaker lead to two at 41-39. Wilmington pushed the lead back to seven at 46-39 and once again at 48-41 with just over 13 minutes to go. A 12-4 Raider run gave Mount Union their first lead of the half at 53-52 after senior JJ Kukura (Alliance/Alliance) capitalized on two free throws. 

After trading baskets, the game was tied at 55 with just over eight minutes to go. Wilmington went on a 9-3 run to take a 64-58 lead into the final five minutes. Wilmington grew the lead to seven at 70-63 with just over three minutes to go. Over the last 3:26, the Raiders went on a 13-3 run led by six free throws from Bower-Malone. 

Mount Union shot 49 percent from the floor (23-of-47) but just 27 percent from distance (4-of-15). The Raider defense held the Fightin' Quakers to just 39 percent shooting (22-of-57) and 29 percent from distance (6-of-21). 

Next up for Mount Union is a home OAC matchup with John  Carroll set for 7 p.m. in the Mcpherson Academic and Athletic Complex.