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Shereef Mitchell (4) Guard position on Ohio Univeristy's Mens Basketball team shoots an open three pointer at The Convo, in Athens, Ohio on Dec. 6, 2023.

Men's Basketball: Ohio picks up first MAC win against Northern Illinois

Ohio (7-7, 1-1 Mid-American Conference) entered its game with Northern Illinois (6-8, 0-2 MAC) in need of a win against a team that has seen similar early season struggles. On the shoulders of a big second half from AJ Clayton, Ohio was able to snap its three-game losing streak with a final score of 78-66. 

The Bobcats entered the day having lost five of their last six games and going into halftime, the team didn’t look much better than it had over the past month. 

At times in the first half, Ohio trailed by as many as 7 points to a Northern Illinois team that came in with similar struggles to that of Ohio. The Huskies entered The Convo on a three-game losing streak where they had won only one of their last seven games. 

Ohio was able to battle back toward the end of the half, but a last-second shot from Northern Illinois made it a 3-point halftime deficit for Ohio. 

The Bobcats have struggled to start fast in the second half over the span of their losing streak, something that Ohio coach Jeff Boals has been vocal about needing to change. Against Northern Illinois, Ohio caught fire out of the half with a 14-3 run to start the second half. 

Despite a halftime deficit, Ohio trailed for only 55 seconds in the second half and would outscore Northern Illinois 46-31 after the break. 

Ohio found its stride in the second half and put it all together for the first time since early in the season. Veterans Clayton and Jaylin Hunter led the offensive onslaught in the second half.

Clayton finished the game, tying a career-high of 23 points to accompany his four rebounds and a team-leading three blocks.   

On the other hand, Hunter has struggled in recent games despite being the team's leading scorer in terms of points per game. The senior guard left his struggles in the past as he took on Northern Illinois, ending the game with 20 points and a team-leading eight rebounds. 

Sophomore Ajay Sheldon was able to make another impact for Ohio after having a career-high of 13 points against Toledo on Thursday. Sheldon led Ohio’s bench with 9 points. 

Its win against Northern Illinois marks Ohio’s first MAC win of the season. 


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