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Clayton, Ohio have big 2nd half to snap skid

Bobcats down Huskies 78-66

ATHENS – AJ Clayton and Ohio had a huge second half to take down Northern Illinois 78-66 and snap a three-game losing streak Saturday at The Convo.

Clayton matched a career high with 23 points, including 19 in the second half when the Bobcats began with a 16-5 run to take control after trailing 35-32 at halftime.

Jaylin Hunter added 20 points, eight rebounds and six assists, and Elmore James scored 11 points with seven rebounds for Ohio (7-7, 1-1 MAC). The Bobcats shot 57.1% in the second half while outscoring the Huskies 46-31.

Xavier Amos topped Northern Illinois (6-8, 0-2 MAC) with 22 points, while David Coit had 17 points.

Quaran McPherson’s half-court shot at the buzzer put the Huskies in front at the break, but the Bobcats came out in the second half firing. Hunter made a layup, Clayton knocked down a 3-pointer, and Aidan Hadaway as Ohio moved in front.

James answered an Amos 3-pointer with one of his own before back-to-back baskets by Shareef Mitchell made it an eight-point game. McPherson scored the next basket, but six as close as Northern Illinois got the rest of the day.

Leading 48-42, the Bobcats scored nine straight points to increase their advantage to 15 points. Hunter hit a 3-pointer, followed by three straight baskets by Clayton, including a dunk that made it 57-42. Ohio led by double digits the rest of the way with its biggest lead of 64-48 coming on a Clayton 3-pointer with 7:42 to play.

Northern Illinois led most of the first half, reaching its biggest lead of 26-19 on a Philmon Gebrewhit layup at the 6:32 mark. Ohio used a 9-1 run to briefly take the lead on a layup by Ajay Sheldon, assisted by Hunter after a steal.

With Miles Brown sitting out again with an injury after he had just returned to action, Sheldon played 26 minutes off the bench and scored nine points. Mitchell struggled to six points on 3-of-10 shooting, but he affected the game positively with six assists and five rebounds.

Despite missing far fewer shots – the Huskies shot just 39.3% - the Bobcats had a 35-32 rebounding advantage, including 13-9 on the offensive end. Amos had seven rebounds for the Huskies, with no one else contributing more than four.

Ohio will try to win back-to-back games for the first time since it won three in a row from Nov. 25 through Dec. 2 to improve to 5-2. The Bobcats face Bowling Green at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Stroh Center.

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