ADA — In order to win a college basketball game, teams cannot afford to take their foot off of the accelerator. Ohio Northern learned that the hard way Wednesday in an 82-74 loss against Heidelberg in an Ohio Athletic Conference showdown at ONU.
ONU (7-7, 3-4 OAC) led by as many as 19 before Heidelberg clawed its way back.
ONU’s Taylor Kuhlman got off to a hot start by scoring eight of his team’s first 12 points.
The Polar Bears eventually jumped out to a 42-23 lead with about 2:49 remaining in the first half.
That is when Heidelberg began to take charge.
Frank Longhino nailed a jumper on the next possession for Heidelberg. ONU then turned the ball over and Nate Davis, who entered the game as the OAC’s top rebounder with 10.2 boards per game, had a monstrous slam to give Heidelberg the momentum. Davis scored five more points before the half ended and led his team on an 11-0 run to cut ONU’s lead to 42-34 at halftime.
“Ohio Northern is a good basketball team, they have a lot of skill players and they’re very tough,” Heidelberg coach Anthony Gholson said. “They did a great job of confusing our guys in the first half. They outplayed us but toward the end of the half they went to a zone and that seemed to open things up for our guys. They began to get a little more confidence.”
Heidelberg (8-6, 3-4 OAC) picked up in the beginning of the second half right where it left off in the first.
The Student Princes took their first lead of the night at 46-45 with 16:46 remaining in the second half.
Both teams seemed to battle back and forth for the rest of the game with the lead changing 14 times.
Heidelberg grabbed control with 2:38 left when senior Dane Givner sank a jumper from the left elbow to give his team a 75-74 lead. ONU didn’t score again as Heidelberg closed out the game on a 9-0 run.
“We started pressing them and got a couple of easy points,” Gholson said. “We want to have the ability to get a couple of steals, get a couple of threes and we’re back in it or we extend the lead.”
Givner led all scorers with 19 points. Davis pitched in with 18 points and 11 rebounds.
Kuhlman led ONU with 17 points and nine rebounds. Branden Rushton and Isaiah Roux both added 12 while Jared Horstman had 10.
“We had our chances, we came back and took the lead a couple of times,” ONU coach Kevin Byrne said. “It seemed like we got a little timid toward the end. We missed a few layups that really hurt. We just have to be more consistent.”
Byrne also credits Heidelberg with playing well and taking advantage of the opportunities that ONU gave them.
“They made plays when they needed to, they got some clean looks on three’s,” Byrne said. “It’s a team that hasn’t shot the ball well from there all year and they go 7-10 tonight. They made some really big ones, full credit to them and we have to go back to the drawing board to see what we need to improve on.”