Cincinnati, Ohio, Nov. 25, 2017 – The No. 9-ranked Washington University in St. Louis men's basketball team battled back from a 13-point second-half deficit to post a 77-73 win over Ohio Northern in the opening game of the Mount St. Joseph Tip-Off Classic Saturday in Cincinnati.
Senior Jake Knupp sealed the game with a three-pointer from the corner on an assist from senior Kevin Kucera with 52 seconds left. Knupp finished with a team-high 17 points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals.
WashU improved to 4-0, while Ohio Northern dropped to 1-1. The Bears are off to a 4-0 start for the sixth-straight season.
The Bears started quickly and lead 6-2 on a bucket by senior Matt Highsmith, but WashU went ice cold from the field the rest of the first half.
WashU missed 10-straight shots at one point, but a three-pointer by sophomore Matt Nester with 9:19 to play trimmed the lead to 15-14. The Polar Bears followed with a 9-0 run to take a 24-14 lead as WashU missed four-straight shots.
WashU shot 19.4 percent (7-of-36) in the first half but only trailed 33-24.
The Bears trailed 45-32 with 14:57 left before they mounted their comeback. Sophomore Hank Hunter, who missed his freshman year with an injury, entered the game with 12:41 left and made an immediate impact.
Hunter blocked a shot and then got the defensive rebound which led to a three-pointer by Highsmith that trimmed the lead to 47-42.
He got the steal on the ensuring possession, and then pulled down an offensive rebound and a put-back to trim the lead to three (47-44). Kucera scored on a driving lay-up with 9:37 left to give WashU a 50-49 lead.
ONU led by six (64-58) after nine-straight points by Nate Burger, but WashU answered with an 8-0 run to take the lead. Knupp's lay-up with 2:25 gave the Bears the lead for good. WashU shot 56 percent (14-for-25) in the second half.
The Bears shot a season-low 34.4. percent (21-for-61) from the field, and was 7-for-12 from three and 28-of-34 from the foul line.
Senior Andrew Sanders added 14 points on 10-of-10 shooting from the free-throw line, while Highsmith had 13 points one 3-of-3 three-point shooting. Kucera added 13 points, while Hunter had eight second-half points on 4-of-5 shooting.
Burger led ONU with 33 points, seven steals, six rebounds and three assists.
WashU takes on Mount St. Joseph (1-2) on Sunday, Nov. 26, in the final of the Mount St. Joseph Tip-Off Classic. Game time is set for 1 p.m. (ET) in Cincinnati.
• WashU has won both all-time meetings with Ohio Northern
• Sanders is three points shy of 900 points for his career.
• WashU is one of 84 remaining unbeaten teams in NCAA Division III.
• Head coach Mark Edwards picked up win No. 667, ninth most all time in D3.