LAPORTE, Ind. – For a fourth time this season, the ONU men’s basketball team had the opportunity to win a third consecutive game. This time, the Tigers completed the task with a 78-53 road win over Purdue University-North Central (Ind.). Olivet's play was sluggish throughout the first half, only leading by four at the half. But with 50 second half points and defensively keeping the Panthers scoreless for the first 6:10 of the second half, the Tigers moved one game above .500 for only the third time this year.
The entire first half was played slowly by both teams as the score read 12-9 in the Panthers' (5-17, 3-14) favor with 11:40 to play. The Tigers (11-10, 9-8) managed to fight back over the next four minutes to tie the game at 16 apiece and then took their first lead (22-20) with 6:19 to play. ONU would not relinquish the lead the rest of the game, extending their first half lead to six and eventually taking a 28-24 advantage into the locker room.
In the first half, Olivet shot 12-for-29 from the field (41.4 percent), 1-for-7 from the three-point line (14.3 percent) and 3-for-5 from the free-throw line (60 percent). They outrebounded the Panthers 16-6, had seven offensive rebounds, and committed 10 turnovers. Purdue-North Central shot 50 percent from the field, 50 percent from the three-point line and 100 percent from the free-throw line. The Panthers committed nine first-half turnovers and had one offensive rebound.
The Tigers used the break to their benefit as the Tigers completely dominated the first six minutes of the second half. ONU was the only team to score, taking a four-point lead and making it an 18-point lead. By the time Purdue-North Central recovered, the game was out of hand and Olivet was in control. Over the next five minutes, the Tigers built their lead to its largest mark, 28 (61-33) as ONU had only given up seven points to the Panthers in the first 12 minutes of the half. The closest the Panthers came the rest of the half was 18.
Senior Jake Boyce (Lockport, Ill.) led the Tigers with 12 points on 3-for-12 shooting from the field and 6-for-8 from the free-throw line. He added 13 rebounds (career-high) in 27 minutes, good for his seventh double-double of the year and his first since November 28.
Senior Ben Worner (Washington, Ill.) finished with 19 points on 8-for-18 shooting from the field and 3-for-10 from three-point line. He added four rebounds and two assists in 35 minutes.
Freshman Aaron Larson (Tolono, Ill.) finished with 13 points on 6-for-8 shooting from the field and 1-for-2 from the free-throw line. He also had three rebounds and two assists in 27 minutes. Senior Torey Laferney (Flint, Mich.) added eight points, three rebounds and two steals in 27 minutes.
Off the bench, Zach Wagner (Roselle, Ill.) had eight points and four rebounds, and Matt Ryan (San Diego, Calif.) had six points and four boards.
David Kelly led the Panthers with 11 points on 3-for-7 shooting from the field, 1-for-2 from the three-point line and 4-for-4 from the free-throw line. He added six rebounds in 16 minutes. Allan Barnes finished with 10 points on 5-for-8 shooting and two rebounds in 24 minutes. Alphonse Futch added nine points, four assists, and six rebounds off the bench in 29 minutes.
Overall, the Tigers shot 30-for-66 from the field (45.5 percent), 4-for-16 from the three-point line (25 percent) and 14-for-21 from the free-throw line (66.7 percent). They outrebounded Purdue-North Central 38-18, committed 11 turnovers and totaled 18 assists, with 17 offensive rebounds and five steals.
Purdue-North Central shot 20-for-52 from the field (38.5 percent), 3-for-12 from beyond the arc (25 percent) and 10-for-12 from the free-throw line (83.3 percent). The Panthers had 13 assists, 15 turnovers, seven offensive rebounds and six steals.
Worner has made 175 career three-pointers, good for 10th all-time. Worner is one behind Stan Chismark for ninth (176).
The Tigers will be back on the court Wednesday, January 23, at home against conference opponent Roosevelt University (Ill.) at 7:30 p.m.