By Tim Glon
TOLEDO — The Ohio Northern men's basketball team nearly pulled off a huge upset, trailing by just two points in the final three minutes before falling 72-62 in an exhibition game at NCAA Division I foe Toledo on Tuesday evening at Savage Arena.
The Rockets improve to 2-0 on the season. The game counts as an exhibition contest for the Polar Bears because the official season starting date for NCAA Division III schools is Nov. 15.
Tre'Shaun Fletcher had 27 points and 10 rebounds for Toledo.
The Polar Bears trailed 36-35 at halftime and were down 55-45 with 10:15 left in the game, but rallied to within 64-62 with 3:19 left and had a real chance at the upset.
But Toledo would score the game's final eight points to hold on for the win.
Junior Daniel Donner (Belleville/Northmoor) added 10 points and grabbed seven rebounds for Ohio Northern.
"I thought we had a legitimate chance to win it at the end," ONU head coach Rich Bensman said. "We had a couple of good looks but just couldn't knock them down. I'm really happy for our guys. We executed well against a very athletic and long team. Our players embraced the challenge of playing a Division I school and we had a great experience."
ONU made 24-of-70 field goals for 34.3 percent and were 11-of 35 from 3-point range for 31.4 percent, while UT made 25-of-59 field goals for 42.4 percent and were 7-of-26 from 3 for 26.9 percent.
Ohio Northern out-rebounded Toledo 44-42.
Senior Joey DiOrio (Columbus/Watterson) hit the first basket of the game and Burger drilled a 3 to tie it at 6-all three minutes in.
Burger drove to the basket for a layup in the half court set to tie the game at 13-13 and a Bruns jumper gave ONU a 15-13 lead at the 11:40 mark of the first half.
A 3-pointer by Donner made it 21-15 Polar Bears with 9:44 to go and Bruns nailed a jumper to make it 23-18 with 8:43 to go in the half.
Toledo answered with an 11-0 run to go up 29-23 with 5:14 to go in the first period.
But the Polar Bears kept battling for entire 40 minutes.
Burger drilled a 3 to make it 29-26 at the 4:41 mark.
Freshman Brandon Waugh (Columbus/Northland) made a 3 to make it 34-32 and DiOrio had a steal and a 3 to pull ONU within 36-35 at the half.
The Rockets scored the first eight points of the second half to grab a 44-35 lead.
Burger made a free throw, Donner got a layup and Burger hit a pull up jumper to pull Northern within 44-40 four minutes into the second half.
UT stretched its lead to 50-42, but a Burger 3 made it 50-45 at the second media timeout.
Toledo enjoyed its largest lead of the night at 55-45 with 10:14 to go, but ONU kept battling.
Burns hit a jumper out of the third media timeout to pull the Polar Bears within 57-51 and then made a free throw and then a jumper to close the gap to 59-54 with 6:39 left.
He hit two more hoops inside to make it 63-58 at the final media timeout.
Burger made one of two free throws at 3:44 to get ONU within 63-59.
After a UT free throw, Donner drilled a 3-pointer to make it 64-62 with 3:09 left.
But the Rockets' Nate Navigato hit a 3 to make it 67-62 and UT would make 5-of-6 free throws in the final 1:37 to ice the game.
The Polar Bears will open their 2017-18 season on Monday with a 7:30 p.m. contest at area-rival Defiance.