PALOS HEIGHTS, Ill. – In order to gain their fifth win in a row, the Tigers had to hold on tight to an 83-72 win over a feisty Trinity Christian College (Ill.) squad on Saturday afternoon. A 17-point lead with eight minutes to play didn't keep the Trolls from fighting back. However, ONU found a way and defeated the conference foe to move three games above .500.
Over the first 10 minutes, the Tigers got it going as the Tiger defense only allowed the Trolls (7-17, 7-12) 10 points after eight minutes played. ONU (13-10, 11-8) took advantage of their size inside and took an 11-point lead with 10:24 to play. The Tigers utilized their post play, scoring 17 of their first 25 points from the paint. Once the Tigers took a 25-14 lead, it triggered a Troll run that lasted two minutes but brought them within three points. Over the remaining eight minutes of the half, ONU’s lead dropped to only two points. But with a late 11-1 run, the Tigers took a 12-point lead into halftime.
In the first half, Olivet shot 18-for-32 from the field (56.3 percent), 5-for-9 from the three-point line (55.6 percent) and 2-for-7 from the free-throw line (28.6 percent). They outrebounded the Trolls 24-17, had seven offensive rebounds and committed six turnovers. Trinity Christian shot 35.3 percent from the field, 26.1 percent from the three-point line and 33.3 percent from the free-throw line. The Trolls committed four first-half turnovers and had six offensive rebounds.
Olivet used the last few minutes of the first half as momentum for the second half. The Tigers exploded in the scoring column, putting up 14 points in the first five minutes to lead by 15. They eventually took a 17-point lead with 10:49 to play after a pair of free-throws. ONU kept a comfortable double-digit lead until around the four-minute mark when the Trolls started to apply pressure in the full court. This caused the Tigers a few turnovers. Trinity Christian took advantage and cut the lead to eight with 2:54 to play. They pulled with seven (78-71) with 1:30, but ONU was able to make free throws and take care of the ball to finish the game.
Senior Jake Boyce (Lockport, Ill.) led the Tigers with his eighth double-double of the year, scoring 26 points on 10-for-11 shooting from the field and 6-for-8 from the free-throw line. He added 10 rebounds and two assists in 30 minutes.
Senior Ben Worner (Washington, Ill.) finished with 18 points on 7-for-13 shooting from the field and 4-for-9 from three-point line. He added five rebounds and four assists in 37 minutes.
Freshman Aaron Larson (Tolono, Ill.) finished with 12 points on 2-for-6 shooting from the field and 7-for-10 from the free-throw line. He also had five rebounds and four assists in 25 minutes. Senior Torey Laferney (Flint, Mich.) added eight points on 3-for-10 shooting from the field and 1-for-5 from the three-point line. He added five rebounds and four assists in 31 minutes.
Off the bench, Zach Wagner (Roselle, Ill.) had seven points and four rebounds in 10 minutes. Matt Ryan (San Diego, Calif.) had eight points, four boards and three assists in 15 minutes.
BJ Wortham led the Trolls with 42 points on 15-for-26 shooting from the field, 8-for-16 from the three-point line and 4-for-9 from the free-throw line. He added 10 rebounds and two assists in 40 minutes. Jake VanDenBerg finished with 10 points on 3-for-10 shooting and seven rebounds in 30 minutes. Logan Vos added 10 points and two rebounds in 21 minutes off the bench.
Overall, the Tigers shot 29-for-53 from the field (54.7 percent), 7-for-17 from the three-point line (41.2 percent) and 18-for-31 from the free-throw line (58.1 percent). They outrebounded Trinity Christian 43-33, committed only 12 turnovers and totaled 23 assists, with nine offensive rebounds and four steals.
Trinity Christian shot 26-for-65 from the field (40 percent), 13-for-40 from beyond the arc (32.5 percent) and 7-for-14 from the free-throw line (50percent). The Trolls had 16 assists, 10 turnovers, 10 offensive rebounds and eight steals.
Worner has made 184 career three-pointers, good for eighth all-time. Worner is three behind Tony Baker for seventh (187). Also, with 18 points against Trinity Christian, Worner has 970 career points — only 30 shy of 1,000. If he reaches the 1,000 point milestone, he will become the 38th member of the ONU Men's Basketball 1,000-Point Club.
The Tigers will be back in action Wednesday, January 30, on the road against conference opponent — the No. 5 team in NAIA Division II — Cardinal Stritch University (Wis.) at 7:30 p.m.