By Tim Glon
SPRINGFIELD — The Ohio Northern men's basketball team rallied from a 19-point first half deficit but fell 79-72 at No. 3-ranked Wittenberg in the championship game of the Wittenberg Kiwanis Holiday Classic on Monday night at Smith Evans Arena.
The Polar Bears (4-6 overall) were led by senior Austin Allemeier (Elida) with a season-high 16 points, junior Thomas Phillips (Kenton) with 13 points and sophomore Brandon Waugh (Columbus/Northland), freshman C.J. Napier (Miamisburg/Fenwick) and freshman Landen Long (Mason) with 11 points each.
Napier picked up his first career double-double with 11 points and a career-high 10 rebounds.
Allemeier and Phillips were both named to the All-Tournament Team for their efforts.
The Tigers (10-0 overall) got 22 points from Jake Bertemes and 19 points from Rashaad Ali-Shakir.
Ohio Northern went scoreless over a span of 7:55 late in the first half as WU went on a 13-0 run to grab a 41-22 lead. A basket by Napier with nine seconds left in the half ended the scoreless streak as the hosts led 43-25 at intermission.
Phillips made two free throws with 4:48 to play to get ONU within 71-58 and scored inside with 4:25 to go to make it 71-60.
Allemeier and Waugh nailed back-to-back threes 30 seconds apart to close the gap to 77-69 with 32 seconds remaining and Napier drilled another three-pointer to make it 79-72 with three seconds to go.
Ohio Northern made 25-of-67 field goal attempts for 37.3 percent and was 13-of-31 from 3-point range for 41.9 percent, while Wittenberg made 29-of-57 field goals for 50.9 percent and was 7-of-24 from beyond the arc for 29.2 percent.
ONU won the rebounding battle 33-32.
Northern reached the finals with a 79-52 victory over Spalding (Ky.) on Sunday afternoon, while Wittenberg won its first round game over Elmira (N.Y.) 81-51 on Sunday night.
The Polar Bears will return to action on Saturday with a 2 pm contest at Ohio Athletic Conference foe John Carroll.