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Northern Illinois holds off Ohio in regular season finale

Sears misses again at buzzer as Bobcats drop 3rd straight

DeKALB, Ill. – A Mark Sears 3-pointer rimmed out at the buzzer, and Northern Illinois handed Ohio its third loss in a row to end the regular season, 58-57, on Friday night at the Convocation Center in DeKalb.

Jason Carter stripped Adong Makoui with less than 10 seconds remaining, giving the Bobcats a chance to win. Sears opted for a step-back 3-pointer and got an open look, but the ball went around the rim and off.

Sears nearly posted a double-double in the loss, finishing with 19 points, eight rebounds and eight assists. Carter barely reached double figures with 10 points as Ohio’s recent offensive struggles continued with a 33.3% shooting night.

Trendon Hankerson and Keshawn Williams had 15 points each for the Huskies (9-21, 6-14 Mid-American Conference).

Northern Illinois had small lead throughout most of the second half. Ohio (23-8, 14-6 MAC) closed the gap to one on a Sears layup with 1:50 remaining, but Makuoi scored following an offensive rebound to make it a three-point game again. Sears converted again with more than a minute remaining, making it 58-57.

After a missed 3-pointer by Zool Kueth, the Bobcats had a chance to take the lead, but this time, Sears missed near the basket. Northern Illinois worked most of the rest of the clock before Makoui was stripped underneath the basket, giving Ohio one final try.

The Bobcats trailed 27-21 after an ugly first half but briefly gained the lead in the second half with an 8-0 run capped by a Tommy Schmock 3-pointer that made it 33-31 with 14:17 to go. After a Hankerson free throw, Schmock connected again to put Ohio up by four.

Northern Illinois came back, though, with eight straight points of its own and did not trail again.

The biggest lead of the game was a 26-16 advantage by the Huskies on an Anthony Crump layup following a steal with 4:36 left in the first half.

Ben Vander Plas scored all nine of his points at the foul line, while all nine of Miles Brown’s points came on 3-pointers.

Despite its plentiful misses, the Bobcats grabbed only four offensive rebounds.

Even with the loss, Ohio maintained the No. 3 seed for the MAC Tournament and is set to face No. 6 seed Ball State in the first round Thursday at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse. It will be the final game of the day and will be broadcast on ESPN+.

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