BEREA, Ohio -- A furious second half rally came up just short as the Mount Union men's basketball team suffered a 96-93 loss at Baldwin Wallace in an Ohio Athletic Conference matchup Wednesday in Berea.
The Purple Raiders found themselves down 78-56 with 7:41 left in the game, then ran off a 37-18 run to close the game including scoring 15 of the final 16 points but was down three at the final horn.
Senior guard JJ Kukura (Alliance) scored a game-high 34 and grabbed nine rebounds while junior Diallo Niamke (Sagamore Hills/Nordonia) had 10 as the other double-digit scorer for the Raiders, who fall to 7-4 overall and 3-2 in the OAC.
The Yellow Jackets (10-2, 4-1 OAC) were led by Jake Fetherolf and Cam Kuhn who posted 27 and 25 points, respectively.
The game opened up with both teams shooting well all the way up to a tie at 13 at the 14-minute mark. The Yellow Jackets then went on an 8-2 run over the next two and a half minutes to open up a six-point lead at 21-15.
Baldwin Wallace pushed their lead out to 11 at 28-17 off a 7-2 run until Tommy Stenger (North Canton/Hoover) nailed a three-point jump shot with 6:29 remaining in the half.
The Raiders muscled back with a 16-4 run of their own led by eight points from Kukura to take a 33-32 just under four minutes left in the half. However, the Jackets answered the Mount Union run with an 14-2 run to take their lead to 12 at 47-35. Kukura made three free throws to send the teams to the locker rooms with Mount Union down nine at 47-38.
The second half opened up with the teams sharing baskets but Kukura kept his hot hand going as he scored six points in the first four minutes and kept Mount Union in the game early in the second hald as the Raiders were down six at 54-48.
Baldwin Wallace pushed out to its largest lead of the game at 78-56 with 7:41 left in the game off a 24-8 run.
Mount Union shot 37-of-68 from the floor (.544) and 9-of-18 (.500) from distance.
Baldwin Wallace had almost half their field goals from behind the arc as they went 36-of-64 (.563) overall and 17-of-33 (.515) from distance.
The Raiders stay on the road as they play Otterbein in an OAC game Saturday, January 6 at 2 p.m. in Westerville.