By Mike Ashcraft
Box Score (PDF)
HUNTINGTON, W. Va -- The Ohio men's basketball team (5-5) clawed back from a nine-point halftime deficit to force overtime but ultimately dropped a tough 99-96 decision to longtime rival Marshall (8-3) on Saturday (Dec. 16) at the Cam Henderson Center.
After missing one game due to a lower leg injury, junior guard Jordan Dartis (Newark, Ohio) scored a career-high 27 points, thanks in large part to match his career high with seven made threes. He also totaled three rebounds and an assist in 41 minutes. Graduate forward Kevin Mickle (Brooklyn, N.Y.) went 9-of-14 from the field en route to a career-high 19 points in 27 minutes of work off of the bench. He nearly achieved a double-double with eight rebounds and also tallied three steals. Freshman guard Teyvion Kirk (Joliet, Ill.) finished with 18 points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals in 37 minutes. He went 7-of-14 from the field. Senior guard Mike Laster (Detroit, Mich.) logged 12 points, four rebounds and two assists in 29 minutes before being forced to exit the game with an injury. Junior forward Doug Taylor (Columbus, Ohio) notched eight points, eight rebounds and a steal over 24 mintues. Junior guard/forward Gavin Block (Lincoln, Ill.) distributed a team-high five assists and also added five points, four rebounds, a block and a steal in 32 minutes.
"Losing stinks," said fourth-year head coach Saul Phillips. "It was a heck of a college basketball game, no question about it. I appreciated our kids resolve. We had some moving parts again there tonight, health wise. We continued to battle through."
The Bobcats shot only 38.5 percent in the first half -- including just 28.6 percent from beyond the arc -- while the Thundering Herd shot 51.6 percent from the floor and knocked down seven treys en route to a 46-37 halftime lead.
After missing his first five three-point attempts to start the game, Dartis caught fire in the second half to help the Bobcats roar back. Ohio went on a 26-9 run over the opening 8:04 of the second half to take its largest lead of the game at eight points at 63-55 with just under 12 minutes to play. Dartis drilled five three pointers during the run while Laster threw down a monster and-one dunk to help the Bobcats take command.
The Thundering Herd answered back with a 13-5 run to even the score at 68-all with just over nine minutes remaining as junior forward Ajdin Penava and junior guard C.J. Burks both made threes and junior guard Jon Elmore capped it off with a jumper. Ohio outscored Marshall, 12-7, over the ensuing 3:11 to grab an 85-70 lead, though, with Kirk providing the Bobcats with six points and Mickle capping off the run with a dunk.
Marshall refused to go away, however, and held a 90-88 lead with just over two minutes remaining in regulation Penava made a layup for two of his 10 points over the final 5:50 of regulation. The Thundering Herd turned the ball over with eight seconds left and still holding a two-point lead, giving Ohio one last chance to extend the game. Kirk's layup with a second left rattled out, but Block put back the miss at the buzzer to force overtime.
The Thundering Herd held a four-point lead at 96-92 with 49 seconds left in overtime after Penava made a layup. Mickle was fouled on Ohio's next trip down the floor and made the first of two free throw attempts, cutting Marshall's lead down to three. Penava drew a foul 10 seconds later and made the first freebie to make it a four-point game again but misfired on the second attempt. Kirk hit a three with 17 seconds to cut Marshall's lead back down to one and keep Ohio's hopes alive. The Bobcats were forced to foul Elmore on Marshall's next possession, and he knocked down both his free throws to give the Thundering Herd a three-point lead with 11 seconds left. Ohio had a chance to force a second overtime but could not hit a three on its final possession, allowing Marshall to escape with the win.
"We had times to take the lead, we just didn't capitalize and hit open looks," said Dartis. "That stuff happens in the game of basketball. We have to get the next one, we have two more home games before we go home for a little bit."
Penava went 10-of-13 from the field with three triples and 10-of-11 from the charity stripe en route to a game-high 33 points. He also hauled in a game-high 15 boards and just missed out on a triple-double with a game-high nine blocks. He also collected three steals and had an assist in 36 minutes of work. Burks produced a 31-point effort after shooting 12-of-22 from the floor with three triples and making 4-of-6 free throws. He also had three rebounds, two assists, a block and a steal over 42 minutes. Elmore logged 20 points thanks in large part to sinking all 10 of his free throw attempts and achieved a triple-double with 10 rebounds and a game-high 10 assists. He also chipped in three steals in 40 minutes.
Ohio plays host to the first of two games to close out 2017-18 non-conference play at the Convocation Center as the Bobcats welcome Prairie View A&M next Wednesday (Dec. 20). The contest is scheduled to get underway at 7 p.m. ET.