Cougars beat Oberlin behind 31-7 outburst
Mount Vernon Nazarene’s Alex Johnson (21) goes up for a shot in the first half of the Cougars’ 83-68 win over Oberlin on Tuesday afternoon at Ariel Arena.
MOUNT VERNON — In a back-and-forth battle most of the way, the Mount Vernon Nazarene men’s basketball team finally broke free with a 31-7 run in the second half to run away with an 83-68 win over visiting Oberlin in non-conference play Tuesday afternoon at Ariel Arena.
Milton Gage scored seven of his nine points during the run, which spanned 10 minutes, 7 seconds overall and turned a 2-point deficit into a 22-point lead.
“He’s our energy guy off the bench,” MVNU coach Jared Ronai said. “He played tremendous defensively today and really ignited us offensively.”
Austin Jones scored a game-high 21 points and five rebounds and three assists to lead the Cougars (14-1), who have won five in a row.
“We just stayed focused and stayed the course and were able to push the game open,” Jones said. “(Milton) really lifted everybody up. Once he started playing well — we all started playing well, honestly.”
Down 48-46, the Cougars scored four points on one possession to both tie and take the lead.
Gage was fouled on a drive for a layup to tie the game. He missed the ensuing free throw and it was rebounded by Eric McLoughlin.
Jevon Knox buried a jumper from the left elbow to give MVNU a 50-48 lead with 12:04 remaining in the game.
Knox stepped in front of a pass and was fouled on the break on the next possession. He knocked down both free throws to push the lead to four.
“We’re a team that really feeds off our defensive pressure,” Ronai said. “We were able to create some offense through our defense. There were some bad spurts … which you expect sometimes off Christmas break. But I’m proud of our guys for persevering and getting the win today.”
Jones and Alex Johnson each converted three-point sandwiched around a Gage 3-pointer as the Cougars pushed the lead to 63-50.
“My coach is always telling me to be instinctual,” Jones said. “So, I try to play that way. If I see something I like — I just try to attack it. I trust in that and believe in myself and I was able to do that.”
Knox added another long ball, Jones sank four free throws and Jacob Paul scored the final five points of the rally as MVNU led 77-55.
An Aidan Miller 3-pointer with 2:47 remaining ended the surge and helped Oberlin close the gap down the stretch.
Knox had 18 points, five rebounds, four assists and a pair of blocks; Isaac White added 12 points and six boards; Johnson finished with four assists to go with seven points and Paul had two steals and scored seven points to lead MVNU.
Wolf Moser had 13 points and Andre Campbell and Joshua Friedkin added 10 points apiece to lead the Yeomen.
Campbell and Isaac Finestone each had five rebounds, Finestone had three assists, Jordan Armstrong had two blocks and Christian Fioretti had a couple of steals for Oberlin.
Next up, MVNU returns to Crossroads League action Jan. 4 at 3 p.m. at Goshen.
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