Heidelberg was poised for its first Ohio Athletic Conference win Saturday.
Jackson Blue made a nice move in the paint, scored a layup, and put HU up, 71-65 on Mount Union.
Two minutes, 42 seconds remained in regulation. A few more points would have put the Student Princes over the top.
Heidelberg’s Jack Hart hits a shot over Mount Union’s Tyler Sherman Saturday at Seiberling Gymnasium.
Unfortunately, there was no more offense for HU. It went scoreless the rest of the way, and the Purple Raiders finished on a 9-0 run to beat Heidelberg, 74-71.
"We did not execute down the stretch," first-year 'Berg coach Andy Bucheit said.
And it started right after Blue's basket. Mount Union's Kyle Scelza went right down and drained a 3 from the left side, halving the Princes advantage to 71-68.
"We said no open looks for him," Bucheit said of Scelza, who hit four 3s for 12 points. "And he got an open look and he made it."
After Mount Union made a stop, Jarrett Ruffin brought the Raiders even closer, driving and getting fouled, then making two free throws,
Heidelberg led 71-70, with 1:47 left. Columbian graduate Cole Williams then missed a 3, and the ball ricocheted to T.J. Gillespie, who took off down the court and made a layup, giving the Raiders a lead.
Mount Union coach Mike Fuline said after struggling for much of the afternoon, his defense stepped up.
"We were just fortunate," Fuline said. "We did defend the last couple minutes, but in a 40-minute game, to be good consistently, you need to guard the whole time.
"But I was really happy with the way we finished the game."
HU turned the ball over on the next possession, but Gillespie missed a layup with about 1:10 left, and Blue got the rebound. With 37 seconds left, Williams had an open layup, but it didn't fall and the Raiders' Cody Dillon grabbed the board. Forced to foul, HU's Mike Petrie grabbed Nate Jacubec. After Jacubec connected on two free throws to put his team up three, Heidelberg had 25 seconds to extend the game.
Mount Union's defense, though, clamped down, forcing Bucheit to call another timeout with nine seconds left.
Bucheit drew up a play for Petrie, who was open deep on the left wing, but the shot missed. Deonte Holder grabbed an offensive board, but his desperation 3 from from the right wing was off.
"We had to go to Mike after that timeout, he's our best shooter," Bucheit said. "I know he didn't shoot it well tonight (0 for 8 from the floor), but we we felt he gave us our best opportunity to get a shot off ... I thought he got a decent look, considering the situation."
Ruffin led the way for the Raiders with 16 points and 13 rebounds. Blue led Heidelberg with 14 points, adding six boards. Holder had 13 points, while Doug Waldmannsetter had seven boards.
Williams finished with nine points, as did Keith Mackie.
Mount Union improved to 4-2, 2-0. Heidelberg fell to 3-4, 0-2.
"I thought we worked harder than they did, we shut them down in the second half," Bucheit said. "And then just two minutes left in the game, we didn't execute well enough, and they took advantage."