ADA -- Junior Branden Rushton scored 19 points to lead the Ohio Northern men's basketball team to a 79-75 victory over Wilmington on Wednesday evening at the ONU Sports Center.
The Polar Bears now stand at 12-12 on the season and 8-9 in the OAC, while the Quakers fall to 12-11, 9-8.
The win also ensures Northern will host a home game in the OAC Tournament. ONU can finish as high as the No. 3 seed with a win at Capital on Saturday.
Rushton shot 8-of-12 from the field and also tied his career high with seven rebounds.
Sophomore Lucas Pennington scored 16 for ONU, junior Jared Horstman and sophomore Isaiah Roux each has 11 points and junior Dominique Royal added 10.
Malcom Heard II scored a game high 34 points on 12-of-19 shooting and also pulled down 15 rebounds to lead Wilmington.
The Polar Bears were ahead 73-66 with 4:38 left, but a 8-2 run by WC cut the lead to 75-74 with 38 seconds left.
Roux was then fouled and sunk both free throws, pushing the ONU lead back up to 77-74 with 33 seconds left.
Northern appeared to get a stop, but Heard II swooped in for the rebound and was fouled on a putback attempt with 17 seconds left.
He made his first free throw, but missed his second and Roux choraled the rebound with 15 seconds remaining.
Roux then split his free throws, expanding the Polar Bear lead to 78-75.
The Quakers looked to tie, but Jordan Berlin's three pointer rimmed out and Royal brought down the rebound to put the game away.
Wilmington came out of the gate strong, as Heard II knocked down three consecutive three pointers for an early 9-2 lead.
The Polar Bears battled back and used a 12-3 run to take a 14-12 lead on a layup by Roux.
The Quakers responded with an 11-2 run of their own to open up a 23-16 lead with 10:14 left in the first half.
ONU would then close the first half on a 24-9 run to take a 40-32 lead at the half.
"I thought we hung in there and battled tonight," said head coach Kevin Byrne. "We made some plays and got stops and rebounds when we needed to."
The Polar Bears shot 31-of-51 (60.8 percent) from the field and 8-of-16 (50 percent) in three pointers.
Wilmington was 22-of-58 (37.9 percent) shooting the ball and 9-of-21 (42.9 percent) from beyond the arc.
WC won the rebounding battle by a 36-32 margin.
"This was a good win," Byrne added. "We have put ourselves in a position to potentially get a bye. We will put in the work and look for the win on Saturday."
Ohio Northern returns to action when it travels to face OAC leader Capital at 2 pm.