Mount Union hosts John Carroll in the finals of the Ohio Athletic Conference Men's Basketball Tournament Saturday, Feb. 29 at 7:30 p.m. at the McPherson Academic and Athletic Complex in Alliance.
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. Doors will open at 5:30 p.m.
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 beat the No. 8 seed Otterbein 75-57 in the quarterfinals Tuesday, then defeated No. 5 seed Heidelberg 97-66 in the semifinals Thursday.
The Raiders are third in the OAC in scoring at 84.9 points per game and lead the OAC in scoring defense allowing opponents 70.2 points per game.
Three Raiders average double digits in scoring, led by OAC Player of the Year senior Nathan Bower-Malone (Stow) at 16.6 points per game, All-OAC second team sophomore Collen Gurley (Akron / Hoban) is at 15.9 points per game and All-OAC first team senior D'Vontay Friga (Cuyahoga Falls) is at 15.4 points per game. Bower-Malone, who won OAC Player of the Week honors for a fourth time this season this past week, also averages 5.4 assists and 4.1 rebounds per game. Bower-Malone and Friga both went over the 1,000 career point total this season and are the 32nd and 33rd players in school history respectively to accomplish the feat. Bower-Malone sits in 6th overall at Mount Union with 1,410 points while Friga stands at 1,004 points.
Sophomore Braedon Poole (McDonald) is the top rebounder at 6.0 per game and is tied for first in the OAC for blocks per game with 1.1.
No. 3 seed John Carroll (19-8) won a pair of games with wins over No. 6 seed Capital, 84-54, Tuesday and No. 2 seed Marietta, 86-79 in Thursday's semifinal.
John Carroll is first in the conference in scoring at 85.9 points per game, three-point percentage at 38.8-percent and third rebounding with 37.6 rebounds per game. Senior Ryan Berger averages a team-best 19.1 points good for second in the OAC and 4.4 rebounds per game, while junior Jackson Sartain (16.1 ppg) and senior Jimmy Berger (13.4 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. The Raiders swept John Carroll in the regular season with wins of 96-79 on Dec. 4 in University Heights and an 88-85 win in Alliance on Jan. 29. Mount Union has won five of the last 10 meetings between the teams.
Mount Union enters the finals on a 16-game win streak that ties the school record for consecutive wins. The Raiders have won all 13 home games this season and have won 30 of their last 31 home 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 34-57 record and won titles in 1997 and 2015.
John Carroll is in its 31st OAC tournament and have compiled a 35-25 record with five titles.
Mount Union and John Carroll have met eight previous times in the OAC Tournament with John Carroll winning five of the eight. They have also met in the championship one time previously with John Carroll winning 76-74.
2019 - #2 Mount Union 94, #6 John Carroll 84 (Semifinals)
2016 - #2 John Carroll 93, #3 Mount Union 74 (Semifinals)
2015 - #3 Mount Union 89, #2 John Carroll 88 OT (Semifinals)
2014 - #5 John Carroll 83, #1 Mount Union 81 (Semifinals)
2011 - #2 John Carroll 75, #7 Mount Union 68 (Quarterfinals)
2004 - #1 John Carroll 76, #6 Mount Union 74 (Finals)
1994 - #1 John Carroll 100, #8 Mount Union 72 (Quarterfinals)
1990 - #8 Mount Union 82, #9 John Carroll 78 (First Round)
Up Next ...
The winner receives an automatic bid to the 64-team NCAA Division III Tournament that begins next Friday, March 6. The selections will be announced at 12:30 p.m. Monday on NCAA.com.
Mike Fuline (Kent State '98) is 160-86 (.650) 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.
Pete Moran (John Carroll '08) is 57-28 (.670) in his third season at John Carroll and has led the Blue Streaks to their 10th OAC championship game in school history. Moran was an assistant coach for his father Mike Moran for the five seasons at his alma mater was a four-year starter for the Blue Streaks that went to the NCAA Tournament three times during his playing career.
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
|Feb. 25||Otterbein||57||Mount Union||75||Final||BX|
|Wilmington||78||Marietta||83||Final||BX RC RC|
|Feb. 27||Heidelberg||66||Mount Union||97||Final||BX|
|John Carroll||86||Marietta||79||Final||BX RC|
|Feb. 29||John Carroll||Mount Union||7:30 PM||V LS A|
All times Eastern