By Caleb Scott
ADA — The Ohio Northern men's basketball team dropped an 88-68 decision to the visiting Marietta Pioneers on Saturday afternoon as it celebrated Senior Day at the ONU Sports Center.
With the loss, the Polar Bears (17-8 overall, 12-6 OAC) clinched the No. 3 seed in next weeks Ohio Athletic Conference Tournament, while the Pioneers (20-5, 14-4) grabbed the No. 2 seed in the tournament.
No. 1 seed John Carroll fell to Capital this afternoon, allowing Marietta to claim a share of the OAC Regular Season title.
With the Capital victory, the Crusaders claimed the No. 6 seed in the OAC Tournament and will travel to Ada to take on Northern on Tuesday, Feb. 20 at 8 pm in the quarterfinal round of the OAC Tournament.
Northern recognized its seven seniors in Nate Burger (Dayton/Alter), Joey DiOrio (Columbus/Watterson), Travis Feitshans (Arcanum/Franklin Monroe), Max Harnett (Kettering/Alter), Brandon Hawkins (Apple Creek/Waynedale), Grant Pepper (Oakwood), and Alex Sibila (Zionsville, Ind.) prior to the contest for their contributions to the program over the last four years.
Burger led the way for ONU in the contest, registering a team-high 28 points and adding four rebounds and a game-high seven assists.
Harnett added nine points, while DiOrio tallied a team-best six rebounds.
The Polar Bears got out to a hot start behind 23 points on 5-of-9 shooting from 3-point range from Burger in the first half.
MC jumped out to a 14-8 lead with 16:20 left in the first half, before Northern used a 9-2 run capped by a 3-pointer from Burger to give ONU a 17-16 edge with 13:38 left in the half.
ONU would stretch the lead to eight points on numerous occasions before a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from MC cut the Northern lead to 42-40 at the break.
A pair of back-to-back 3-pointers from DiOrio and a layup from Feitshans allowed Northern to open a quick 50-43 lead in the second half.
From there, Marietta scored nine unanswered points to take their first lead since the 13:16 mark of the first half at 52-50 with 14:02 left in the contest.
With 2:28 remaining in the contest, the Pioneers saw their lead bloom to 86-65 to grab their largest lead of the afternoon.
Northern shot 24-of-61 (39.3 percent) from the field, including 8-of-22 (36.4 percent) from 3-point range, while the Pioneers were 32-of-58 (55.2 percent) from the field and 11-of-21 (52.4 percent) from 3-point range.
The two teams each recorded 34 rebounds apiece, while the Pioneers edged Northern in second chance points, 14-10.
Northern returns to action on Tuesday evening in the opening round of the OAC Tournament as they welcome Capital to the ONU Sports Center for a 8 pm tipoff.