Men's Basketball: Mount Union Suffers Loss at Muskingum

JJ Kukura (Photo by: JT Higgins)
JJ Kukura (Photo by: JT Higgins)

NEW CONCORD, Ohio – Mount Union's men's basketball team drops to 9-7 overall and 5-4 in the OAC after a 97-89 loss to Muskingum in an Ohio Athletic Conference matchup Wednesday night in New Concord.

The Purple Raiders were led by senior JJ Kukura (Alliance) who recorded his sixth career double-double with 22 points and 10 rebounds on the evening. Sophomores Nathan Bower-Malone (Stow) and D'Vontay Friga, (Cuyahoga Falls) who came off the bench, scored 18 and 17 points, respectively. Miles Griffin (Massillon/Jackson) also had 11 points on the night for the Raiders.

Muskingum, now 7-9 overall and 5-4 in the conference, was led by Marcus Dempsey with 28 points and Devon Peart with 19.

Within the first three minutes of the game, Muskingum jumped out to a 12-6 advantage, but an 11-5 run sparked by five quick points from Friga tied the game at 17. With the score 30-24 in favor of the Muskies, Mount Union went on a 7-0 to gain their first lead of the game at 31-30 off two free throws from John Carroll (Massillon/Tuslaw).  

The game would be tied five more times before the end of the half with the last being at 46. Muskingum closed the half on a 7-2 run to make the score 53-48 at halftime.

Friga provided a boost for the Raider offense as he scored 10 first half points. Bower-Malone matched Friga with 10 of his own in the first half.

The second half started like the first with Muskingum outscoring Mount Union 9-4 in the opening minutes and pushing their lead to 10 at 62-52. With the score 68-57 in favor of the Muskies, the Raiders went on a 10-0 run to cut the deficit to one with 10:47 remaining. Muskingum answered with a 13-3 run to push their lead back to 10 at 81-71 with 6:00 to play.

A 9-3 Mount Union run cut their deficit to four with 3:41 to play. Muskingum finished the game on a 13-8 run to seal the win at home.

The Raiders shot 51.4% (36-of-70) from the floor while the Muskies were 52.7% (29-of-55). Muskingum outscored Mount Union by 27 at the free-throw line as the Muskies were 32-of-40 and the Raiders were just 5-of-5.

Next up for the Raiders is a home matchup with Ohio Northern at 2 p.m. in the MAAC.