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Laster's 31 points lead Ohio to win over Northern Illinois

Bobcats run out to 14-2 lead and never give it up

ATHENS – Mike Laster scored a career-high 31 points to lead Ohio to a 78-68 victory against Northern Illinois on Saturday at The Convo.

Teyvion Kirk added 16 points for the Bobcats, who ran out to a 14-2 lead to start the game and did not let the Huskies get closer than six points the rest of the way.

Laster finished 10 of 12 from the field, including 5 of 6 from 3-point range, and made 6 of 7 free throws. He added four rebounds and two assists.

Gavin Block had 9 points, and Jordan Dartis and Kevin Mickle each had 8 points.

Dante Thorpe and Eugene German each scored 15 points to lead Northern Illinois (8-7, 1-1 Mid-American Conference). Levi Bradley had 14 points, and Justin Thomas had 12 points.

Laster opened scoring with a layup and added two free throws before Kirk scored a basket and two fouls shots to make it 8-0. Thomas finally got Northern Illinois on the scoreboard, but Laster and Dartis followed with back-to-back 3-pointers to make it 14-2.

Later in the half, with Ohio leading 19-10, a Laster three-point play began an 8-0 run to push the advantage to 27-10. The Bobcats (8-6, 1-1 MAC) eventually took a 36-22 lead into the locker room.

The Huskies had a 10-0 run early in the second half to get to within 38-32 with 15:06 remaining, but Kirk hit a 3-pointer and then answered one by Northern Illinois with a three-point play to make it a nine-point game. Laster’s three point-play followed a Gairges Daow 3-pointer for the Huskies.

Ohio went back up by as much as 15 on a Laster 3-pointer that made it 63-48. Northern Illinois came back, cutting it to 68-61 on a Thomas 3-pointer with 4:05 left. Laster came back with yet another three-point play to stop the run.

In addition to the great offensive performance by Laster throughout, the Bobcats also got a great defensive effort in the first half, holding the Huskies to 28.6 percent shooting with nine turnovers. They eventually recovered to shoot 43.3 percent with only 11 overall turnovers, but that could not match the Bobcats at 56.5 percent for the game.

Ohio hosts Ball State at 7 p.m. Tuesday at The Convo.

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