Men's Basketball: Strong Defensive Effort Pushes Mount Union Past Otterbein

Diallo Niamke (Photo by: JT Higgins)
Diallo Niamke (Photo by: JT Higgins)

WESTERVILLE, Ohio -- A strong defensive effort allowed Mount Union's men's basketball team to defeat Otterbein 55-42 in an Ohio Athletic Conference matchup Saturday afternoon in Westerville.

With the win, Mount Union advances to 8-5 overall and 4-2 in the OAC. Otterbein, who was led by Connor Clark with 12 points, drops to 0-13 and 0-6 in the conference.  

The Purple Raiders showed balanced scoring on the afternoon as nine players entered the scoring column. Mount Union was led by sophomore guards Nathan Bower-Malone (Stow) and D'Vontay Friga (Cuyahoga Falls) who scored 11 and 10 points, respectively.

Four other guys had at least six points including Diallo Niamke (Sagamore Hills/Nordonia) with nine, Tanner Slack (Minerva) with seven and JJ Kukura (Alliance) along with Miles Griffin (Massillon/Jackson) each with six.

The first half was sluggish for both teams as the score was just 10-10 at the 6:25 mark of the first half. Turnovers were an issue in the first half as the Raiders recorded seven while turning the Cardinals over nine times. The Raiders doubled their scoring with 2:28 left in the half from two Kukura free throws and led 20-16. The first half ended with an Otterbein 6-3 run which made the score 23-22 in favor of the Raiders.

The first half saw the Raiders shoot just 7-of-24 (.292) and the Cardinals shooting 7-of-26 (.269).

Each team opened with 5-0 runs to start the second half making the score 28-27 in favor of the Raiders at the 17-minute mark. Mount then went on a 23-5 run which saw six different scorers over the next 12 minutes to take a 19-point lead at 51-32. That run was led by Friga with eight points and Bower-Malone with six. Mount Union maintained that lead as they held on to win 55-42.

Mount Union came back to shoot 19-of-47 (.404) from the floor while still hold the Cardinals under 25 percent at 12-of-55 shooting (.236).

The Raiders will come back home Wednesday, January 10th to take on No. 25 Marietta at 7 p.m. in an OAC showdown in the MAAC.