Men's Basketball: Mount Union Drops Close One at Heidelberg

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

TIFFIN, Ohio – Mount Union's men's basketball team dropped a road matchup with Heidelberg 74-72 in an Ohio Athletic Conference matchup Saturday afternoon in the Seiberling Gymnasium.

The Purple Raiders, now 11-12 overall and 7-9 in the OAC, were led by senior JJ Kukura (Alliance) who posted his fourth double-double in five games with 26 points and 11 rebounds. Also in double-figures for the Raiders were sophomore Nathan Bower-Malone (Stow) and junior Tommy Stenger (North Canton/Hoover) with 12 and 10 points, respectively.

Heidelberg advances to 10-13 overall and 6-10 in the OAC. The Student Princes had three scorers in double-figures led by Chris Moxley with 22. Myron Prewitt and Josh Dixon poured in 14 and 10 points, respectively.

Both teams struggled shooting the ball early as they combined to open 0-for-11 from the floor. Shots started to fall for the Student Princes as they made 10 of their next 15 shots to open a 25-10 lead with 8:58 remaining in the half. At that point, the Raiders were just 3-of-12.

The Raiders then went on an 19-9 run over the next seven minutes to cut the Heidelberg lead to five at 34-29. Kukura kept the Raiders in the game in the first half as he scored 17 first-half points and the teams went to the locker room with the Raiders down seven at 38-31.

The Raiders opened the second half on an 8-4 run capped by a Bower-Malone three to cut the deficit to four at 43-39. With the score 46-43 in favor the Student Princes, Heidelberg went on a 7-0 run to push its lead back to 10 at 53-43 before Mount Union answered with a 9-0 run to cut the deficit to one at 53-52 with 10:57 remaining.

Heidelberg extended that lead again at 62-54 off a 9-2 run before a Stenger layup ended the run with 5:42 left in the game. With the Raiders trailing 68-60, Mount Union went on a 9-2 run to cut the deficit to one at 70-69 on a Miles Griffin (Massillon/Jackson) layup with 29 seconds remaining. Late free throws from the Student Princes shut the door on the Raiders comeback as they converted all four free throws in the last 30 seconds of the game.

Mount Union shot just 19-for-55 (34.5%) from the floor and 10-for-29 (34.5%) from distance. Heidelberg was 23-of-64 (36%) and just 4-of 21 (19%) from distance. Both teams shot well from the free throw line as the Raiders were 24-for-27 (89%) and the Student Princes were 24-of-30 (80%).

The Raiders will stay at home for their last two regular season games as they face Baldwin Wallace on Wednesday February 14 at 7 p.m. and celebrate senior day on February 17 against Otterbein at 2 p.m.