Mount Union has watched Marietta win the OAC year after year. Upon receiving the AP vote to win the OAC this year, the Raiders new their game against the Pioneers would hold special meaning. This game brought a blackout themed student section, a packed MAAC, Alumni there to support, and pressure from the beginning. With all these Factors, Mount Union handed the OAC juggernaut a 107-70 crowd pleaser. A game such as this isn’t simply a nice home win. The biggest game thus far left us with a lot to takeaway.
Nathan Bower-Malone is the #1 – The Raiders have a slew of talent on this team, but basketball looks to define who is the #1 option. Bower-Malone has pushed his career high and finally got it with 36 points Wednesday night. The biggest game of the season brought about Bower Malone’s best performance, that’s what a #1 does. The Stow product is running the offense with career highs in points at 16.6 per game and assists at 6.1. Bower-Malone has shown the ability to be exactly what the team needs every game, the value in doing so can’t be undervalued this season.
Mount Union’s Depth is their Greatest Advantage- The Raiders are the deepest they have been in the last four years. Each game sees upper and lower classman receive valuable minutes. It’s fun to watch and listen to each game because the games see different players take turns scoring, creating highlights, and making defensive plays.
Collen Gurley is Much Improved- The second-year scoring guard out of St. Vincent – St. Mary High School has only gotten better. The flashes of scoring and tough defense in year one, have turned into quality shot taking and constant hustle on both ends on the floor in year two. Gurley leads the team in scoring with 17.1 PPG and is shooting 42% from three. Gurley has taken his 30 minutes per game as a chance to become a catch and shoot star. When the team needs a catch up or put away run of quick scoring, I don’t think anyone doubts who can get quick points.
Mike Fuline has Mastered Rotations- Handling depth can be a curse for a coach. Too many quality players can cause issues for a team. Mike Fuline has the taken his talented roster to another level. The Raiders have three points guards, one shooting guard, a forward, two power forwards, and two centers that all deserve meaningful playing time. Fuline has made this talented roster into an OAC challenger. Bower-Malone has achieved career highs, Collen Gurley seems to find a hot streak at some point every game, John Carroll has reemerged as a valuable starter and center, and Logan Hill is becoming more comfortable in his transfer year. Moreover, Fuline created a Captain sixth man in D’Vontay Friga, averaging a career 13.1 PPG and playing his best defense. The team is at their best, the program is improving, and Fuline is at the center of it all.
The Raiders still have Challenges Waiting- While knocking off the top OAC team in a blowout is huge, Mount Union has more games like this coming. Next Wednesday, the Raiders welcome in John Carroll. The Blue Streaks are 11-5, but are driven by an early season losing streak. The Blue Streaks come into Alliance looking for a way to prove themselves within the OAC. Along with John Carroll, the Raiders still must travel to Marietta. While Mount is high off a 107-100 win, the Banjo is a difficult road game.