Men's Basketball: Huge First Half Lifts Raiders over Blue Streaks in OAC Semifinals

Nathan Bower-Malone (Photo by Ed Hall Jr.)
Nathan Bower-Malone (Photo by Ed Hall Jr.)

ALLIANCE, Ohio --Mount Union's men's basketball team advanced to the finals of the Ohio Athletic Conference Tournament after defeating John Carroll 94-84 in the OAC semifinals matchup Thursday at the McPherson Academic and Athletic Complex.

Mount Union (22-5) now has a 17-game home win streak dating back to last season and will host No. 5 seed Baldwin Wallace, an 81-67 winner over top-seeded Capital, Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. at the MAAC. 

Six different Purple Raiders finished with double-digits led by junior Nathan Bower-Malone (Stow) with 17 points, senior Tommy Stenger (North Canton/Hoover) and freshman Collen Gurley (Akron/Hoban) each tallied 15 points, senior Andrew Francesconi (Tallmadge) added 14 points while junior D'Vontay Friga (Cuyahoga Falls) and senior Diallo Niamke each had 12 and 10 points respectively.

John Carrol (13-14) was led by Jackson Sartain who finished with 26 points.

Both teams came out shooting with the Raiders taking a 10-7 lead off a three-pointer from Friga. The Raiders pushed the point margin to seven off a three-pointer from freshman Braedon Poole (McDonald) at 27-20. John Carroll crawled back and got within one, 27-26, with 7:48 left in the half before Mount Union went on a 25-4 run sparked by a three from Stenger. The Raiders headed into the intermission break up 57-36.

The Blue Streaks continued to cut away at the lead to start the second half going on a 7-0 run to make the score 73-58 with 11:52 left. Following a Mount Union timeout, John Carroll continued to apply pressure shrinking the point margin to seven at 78-71 with 6:13 remaining. The Blue Streaks got within four before Francesconi nailed a three-pointer to move the score to 87-80 with 2:55 remaining. Mount Union ended the game with a 7-2 run to go onto the 94-84 victory.