UNIVERSITY CENTER, Mich. – A trio of Ohio Dominican men's basketball players scored in double figures to lead Ohio Dominican to a 76-69 victory over Saginaw Valley in its conference opener Thursday night at O'Neill Arena.
It was not only the Panthers (3-2; 1-0 GLIAC) first ever win over the Cardinals, the victory also marked the first time ODU has defeated a Northern Division opponent. It was also the Cardinals first loss of the season.
Sophomore Mark Minch (West Chester, Ohio) scored 17 points for ODU, while sophomore Chad Nelson (Columbus, Ohio) added 17 points, five rebounds and three assists. Sophomore Trent Weaver (Hilliard, Ohio) finished with 11 points. Senior Brandon Carr (Chicago, Ill.) and freshman Reece Dils (Saline, Mich.) chipped in seven points each off the bench.
Saginaw Valley (4-1; 0-1) was paced by Damon Bozeman who led all scorers with 18 points.
The Panthers shot 42.9 percent from the field on the night, connecting on 24-of-56 attempts. Ohio Dominican turned its defense into offense, forcing the Cardinals into 13 turnovers that the Panthers converted into 10 points on the other end of the floor. ODU's defense also tallied four steals and two blocked shots.
It was a slow start for both teams, with the Panthers maintaining the lead for the first 20 minutes.
ODU used a 12-4 run to take its largest lead 21-12 at the 11:08 mark off a senior Ledarius Stennis (Moss Point, MS) layup. The Panthers maintained the lead for the remainder of the half, using a balanced scoring attack to take a 37-29 lead into the locker room. Ohio Dominican's defense held the Cardinals to an 11-of-28 effort from the field for a 39.3 shooting percentage in the first half.
Ohio Dominican emerged after the break and increased its lead to 50-38 at the 13:19 mark on Carr's jump shot. The Cardinals cut the lead back to eight, 50-42 two minutes later with 11:29 on the game clock.
It wasn't until SVSU's Kellen Smith netted a pair of free throws with 5:18 left to play that the Cardinals would answer with a 10-6 run of their own. Saginaw Valley closed the gap to four points with ODU leading 56-52.
Stennis put the Panthers back up by seven 59-52 after hitting his second 3-pointer of the night.
The Panthers held onto their lead in the waning minute, thanks to a 9-for-9 performance from the charity stripe as a team over the last 1:27 which was enough to seal the victory.
Ohio Dominican will travel to Wayne State to take on the Warriors on Saturday, Dec. 7, for a 3 p.m. GLIAC contest against the Warriors.
Contact: Sarah Twiggs