Men's Basketball: Top Seed Mount Union Hosts Heidelberg in OAC Tournament Semifinals Thursday

Photo By: Joey Rees
Photo By: Joey Rees

Mount Union hosts Heidelberg in the semifinals of the Ohio Athletic Conference Men's Basketball Tournament Thursday, Feb. 27 at 7 p.m. at the McPherson Academic and Athletic Complex in Alliance.

The game will be broadcast locally on the radio on WDPN 1310 AM and also on WRMU 91.1 FM. Fans can follow the game with LIVE STATS and a LIVE VIDEO broadcast.

Tickets for the game will be available at the door and are $8 for adults, $6 for senior citizens, and $3 for non-OAC students. Mount Union season ticket holders must pay for their tickets at the door and reserved signs will be on their respective seats. No parent passes are accepted but OAC Lifetime passes are accepted.

The Purple Raiders (23-3 overall) are the tournament's No. 1 seed and won the conference's regular season title for the second straight year and 12th time overall.

Mount Union is third in the OAC in scoring at 84.4 points per game and leads the OAC in scoring defense allowing opponents 70.4 points per game.

Three Raiders average double digits in scoring, led by senior Nathan Bower-Malone (Stow) at 17.0 points per game, sophomore Collen Gurley (Akron / Hoban) at 16.2 points per game and senior D'Vontay Friga (Cuyahoga Falls) at 15.2 points per game. Bower-Malone, who won OAC Player of the Week honors for a fourth time this season this past week, is an OAC Player of the Year candidate as he also averages 5.5 assists and 4.2 rebounds per game. Sophomore Braedon Poole (McDonald) is the top rebounder at 5.9 per game and is tied for first in the OAC for blocks per game with 1.1.

No. 5 seed Heidelberg (12-14) won its first tournament game for the first time since 2011 with a 75-69 win at No. 4 seed Baldwin Wallace Tuesday night. The Student Princes have won two games in a row as they knocked off then No. 16 ranked Marietta, 85-68, last Saturday.

Heidelberg is eighth in the conference in scoring at 71.5 points per game and second defensively allowing 71.3 points per game. Senior Tamal Watkins averages a team-best 14.5 points and 4.2 rebounds per game, while juniors in Dylan Woods (13.0 ppg) and Alex Arellano (10.1 ppg) are the other double digit scorers.

Mount Union was only the fifth team in the last 40 years to go 17-1 in OAC play but that loss was a 68-67 defeat at Heidelberg on Jan. 4. The Raiders have not lost since that game including a 93-80 win over Heidelberg in Alliance on Feb. 15. Mount Union has won seven of the last 10 meetings between the teams.

Gone Streaking

Mount Union enters the semifinals on a 15-game win streak. The Raiders have won all 12 home games this season and have won 29 of their last 30 games with the only loss over that span was a 79-75 loss in the OAC Tournament title game to Baldwin Wallace last year. The Mount Union record for consecutive wins is 16 by the 1996-97 team.

OAC Tournament History

It is the 60th OAC Tournament appearance for Mount Union and the Raiders have a 33-57 record and won titles in 1997 and 2015.

Heidelberg is in its 57th OAC tournament and have compiled a 43-54 record with two titles.

Mount Union and Heidelberg have met five previous times in the OAC Tournament with Mount Union winning four of those meetings.

2019 - #2 Mount Union 77, #7 Heidelberg 66 (Quarterfinals)

2016 - #3 Mount Union 102, #6 Heidelberg 96 (Quarterfinals)

1998 - #1 Mount Union 67, #5 Heidelberg 56 (Semifinals)

1982 - #3 Heidelberg 75, #6 Mount Union 73 (First Round)

1973 - #2 Mount Union 58, #3 Heidelberg 50 (Second Round)

Up Next ...

The winner advances to the finals against the winner of a matchup between No. 2 seed Marietta and No. 3 seed John Carroll Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at the site of the higher seed.

Coaches

Mike Fuline (Kent State '98) is 159-86 (.649) in his ninth season at Mount Union.  Fuline has led Mount Union to four 20-win seasons, OAC regular season titles in 2013-14, 2018-19 and 2019-20 along with an OAC Tournament title in 2015. In 2015, Mount Union got to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 18 seasons and advanced to the Sweet 16 for the second time in school history.  Before coming to Mount Union, Fuline spent eight years as a high school head coach at Rootstown and Massillon Jackson.  His 2010 Jackson team won the OHSAA Division I State Championship.

Andy Bucheit (Wittenberg '05) is 74-107 (.409) in his seventh season at Heidelberg and has led the Student Princes to their first win in the OAC Tournament for the first time since 2011. Bucheit was an assistant coach at Marietta for five seasons before joining the Student Princes. A four-year letter winner at Wittenberg advancing to three NCAA Tournaments, he also spent two years as an assistant coach at Ashland.

Ohio Athletic Conference

Top eight of 10 teams qualify. Higher seeds host throughout. Rounds Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. 
Seedings: 1 Mount Union, 2 Marietta, 3 John Carroll, 4 Baldwin Wallace, 5 Heidelberg, 6 Capital, 7 Wilmington, 8 Otterbein

 

Date Away   Home   Time/Status Links
Feb. 25 Otterbein 57 Mount Union 75 Final BX
  Capital 54 John Carroll 84 Final BX
  Wilmington 78 Marietta 83 Final BX RC RC
  Heidelberg 75 Baldwin Wallace 69 Final BX
Feb. 27 Heidelberg   Mount Union   7:00 PM LS V
  John Carroll   Marietta   7:00 PM LS