By Tim Glon
ADA —Ohio Northern overcame an 18-point first half deficit, but cold-shooting from long range and a late run by No. 24-ranked John Carroll was the difference in a 90-80 loss on Saturday afternoon at the ONU Sports Center.
The Polar Bears (16-7 overall, 11-5 Ohio Athletic Conference) got a game-high 33 points from senior Nate Burger (Dayton/Alter), 17 points from junior Ryan Bruns (Chickasaw/Marion Local) and 12 from senior Joey DiOrio (Columbus/Watterson).
The Blue Streaks (19-4, 13-3) stay atop the OAC with the victory. They had six players in double figures in scoring, led by Ryan Berger with 24 points.
Northern struggled from deep all day, finishing just 4-of-26 from 3-point range for 15.4 percent.
John Carroll raced to an early 28-10 lead in the game's first 8:29.
But the Polar Bears battled all the way back and a fast break layup by DiOrio just before the halftime horn tied the game at 43-all.
Ohio Northern used a 10-2 run early in the second half to grab a 55-51 lead with 15:25 remaining.
JCU answered with a 16-4 run of its own to grab a 67-59 advantage with 11:08 left.
The Blue Streak lead would bounce between three and eight points the rest of the way and a basket by Burger made it 82-78 with 1:56 to play.
But the visitors would score the game's next eight points to make it 90-78 in the final minute and ice the contest.
"John Carroll came out and punched us in the mouth early," ONU head coach Rich Bensman said. "I was very happy with how well we responded and eventually took a lead. But that takes a lot of energy and that made it tough when they made another run. Plus, we shot the ball poorly from three-point range. We have good shooters, but they just didn't go down for us today."
Northern was 31-of-67 (46.3 percent) from the field, but were just 4-of-26 from 3-point range (15.4 percent) from 3-point range, while John Carroll was 36-of-66 (54.5 percent) from the field and 12-of-30 (40.0 percent) from the 3-point line.
JCU won the battle on the glass by a 36-31 margin.
The Polar Bears return to action on Wednesday with a 7 pm contest at Otterbein and will wrap up the regular season next Saturday with a 2 pm contest against Marietta at the ONU Sports Center on Senior Day.