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Cougars Rally Past Northwestern Ohio for 71-69 AMC Win! - Jan 26, 2010

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written by Dave Parsons, Sports Information Director

MOUNT VERNON, Ohio (1-23-2010) - The Mount Vernon Nazarene University mens basketball team overcame an 11-point deficit in the second half as the Cougars posted a 71-69 American Mideast Conference win over the University of Northwestern Ohio on Saturday night in front of a large, vocal crowd in the Physical Education Center.

MVNU (9-11, 2-6 AMC) got off to a good start in the game as the Cougars used the hot hand of sophomore guard Robbie Taylor (5'10''-G) (left) to stake them to an early 16-10 lead after the first five minutes as Taylor buried a trio of treys for nine early points.

The visiting Racers (12-10, 4-5 AMC) answered with a 20-7 run of their own to take a 30-23 lead with 2:53 to go in the half on a three-pointer by Isaac Bowers. Northwestern Ohio would maintain a 32-27 lead as the teams went to the locker rooms at the break. Taylor led MVNU with nine first-half points, while sophomore post Jordan Heatherly added seven points and five rebounds. Junior forward Adam Grimm also grabbed seven rebounds. The Cougars shot 33.3 percent from the field (10-for-30), 42.9 percent from three-point range (3-for-7), and 66.7 percent from the free throw line (4-for-6). The Racers were led by Dustin Guthrie with nine points and seven rebounds off the bench, while Bowers added eight points. Northwestern Ohio shot 48.1 percent from the field (13-for-27), 16.7 percent from three-point range (1-for-6), and 62.5 percent from the free throw line (5-for-8).

A quick 7-1 run by the Racers to start the second half gave Northwestern Ohio its biggest lead of the game at 39-28 with just 90 seconds gone by in the final period. The Racers still held a 48-38 advantage at the 11:59 mark when MVNU began to mount its comeback. The Cougars used a 16-6 run to take a 54-53 lead on a tip-in by Grimm with 8:13 to play. Short scored eight points during the surge with a pair of three-point plays and a layup, and Grimm added six points including a steal and dunk (video below) that got the MVNU faithful up on their feet for the rest of the game. Grimms tip-in started a streak of eight straight possessions by the two teams combined that resulted in eight lead changes over the next three minutes with the Racers holding a slim 61-60 lead with 5:13 to go.

Northwestern Ohio extended its lead to 66-61 with 3:50 remaining as Josh Vorst scored five straight points for the Racers, but senior wing Austin Kaiser ended an 0-for-21 slump from beyond the arc with a three-pointer with 3:35 to go to keep the Cougars in the game. With Northwestern Ohio holding a 69-66 lead with 2:02 to play, the teams traded scoreless possessions before Short knotted the score at 69-69 with 58.1 seconds left with a three-point play. Vorst missed a jumper for the Racers and Grimm grabbed the rebound with 36 seconds left on the clock as there was a one-second differential between the game clock and the shot clock. After a timeout, MVNU held the ball for what they hoped would be the final shot. With time winding down and the Cougars looking to put the ball in Shorts hands, MVNU nearly turned the ball over. However, Taylor alertly grabbed the loose ball and hit a jumper just outside the free throw line with 2.8 seconds left as the Cougars took a 71-69 lead.

After three timeouts between the two teams, Heatherly, who was guarding the inbounds pass, deflected the ball back out of bounds as a second ran off the clock. Then, Brandon Millers long pass was intercepted by Taylor as MVNU celebrated the hard-fought 71-69 victory.   

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