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ATHENS, Ohio– The Ohio Men's Basketball team (14-16, 6-12 MAC) came from behind and took down Miami (15-16, 7-11 MAC) for a 66-57 Senior Night victory inside the Convocation Center on Friday night. With the win, the Bobcats wrapped up the 10thseed in this year's Mid-American Conference Tournament. Ohio will head to DeKalb, Ill. to take on seventh-seeded Northern Illinois on Monday, March 11. Tip-off is set for 9 p.m. ET.
"I thought it was a fitting way for the seniors to go out," head coach Saul Phillips said. "It was kind of a grinding, physical game. I think that kind of defines who they have been throughout their careers here. We did a much better job in the second half of attacking at the rim. We got a little carried away with the threes in the first half. When we started attacking the rim we started to get to the free throw line and that was a big difference."
Leading the Bobcats was redshirt sophomore forward Jason Carter (Johnstown, Ohio), who posted a career-high 26 points on 7-of-13 shooting. Carter made the most free throws in his career as he was 11-of-12 from the line while knocking down one from the three point line. Carter added five rebounds and one assist in 33 minutes on the floor.
Freshman forward Jason Preston (Orlando, Fla.) and Senior forward Doug Taylor (Columbus, Ohio) each had 10 points in the win. Preston was a perfect 4-of-4 from the free throw line and was 3-of-6 from the field while Taylor was 3-of-5 overall and 4-of-6 from the line. Preston had seven boards and two assists in 39 minutes on the floor. Taylor had a team-high eight boards and saw the floor for 27 minutes.
Redshirt freshman forward Ben Vander Plas (Ripon, Wis.) and redshirt sophomore guard Connor Murrell (Sioux City, Iowa) each had seven points. Vander Plas was able to knock down one three and was 3-of-8 from the field and added four rebounds. Murrell was 1-of-2 from deep and 2-of-6 overall while hitting both of his free throws.
The Bobcats would win the opening tip, however, the Miami would open the game on a 7-0 run before Carter got the Bobcats on the board with a three-pointer, cutting the Miami lead to 7-3. Miami would then go up 12-3 before a jumper from Kirk and a three pointer from Murrell would bring the Bobcats within four at the 144:46 mark. After the RedHawks would take an 18-8 lead, a three from Vander Plas would bring within seven. After Miami would go up 27-15, back-to-back jumpers from Preston would cut the RedHawks lead to 27-19.
After the RedHawks would go up 30-19, free throws from Taylor and a steal from Preston and a monstrous dunk from Vander Plas would cut the Miami lead to seven. A layup from Carter would bring the score to 30-25 with a layup, however, Miami would hit a jumper at the buzzer to send the game to the half with the RedHawks leading 32-25.
At the half, the Bobcats shot 31 percent from the field, 21 percent from three-point range and were a perfect 4-for-4 from the free throw line. Miami outrebounded the Bobcats, 27-16, while Ohio dished out six assists and had four blocks to Miami's seven assists and no blocks.
The RedHawks would open the second half on a 5-0 run take a 37-25 lead before two free throws and a layup from Cater would bring Ohio within eight. After Miami would go back up 10 with 16:38 to go, a layup from Preston would spark a 6-0 run to cut into the Miami lead, 39-34. After two free throws from Miami would put them back up six, a layup from Carter and another dunk from Vander Plas would bring the Bobcats within one with 11:53 left in the game.
Miami would hit a three, but a jumper from Murrell and a layup from Carter would bring Ohio back within one, cutting the Miami lead to 45-44 with 9:21 left. Miami would take a five-point lead moments later, before Carter and Murrell would hit their free throws, cutting the Miami lead to 51-49. Moments later, the Bobcats would take their first lead of the game when junior guard Antonio Cowart, Jr. (McComb, Miss.) would bank in a three as the shot clock expired, putting Ohio up 52-51 with 4:13 left. Miami would then hit two free throws seconds later to give the RedHawks a 53-52 lead going into the final media timeout.
Ohio grabbed the lead right back with a Carter layup and he would extend the lead with two free throws at 56-53. An and-one dunk from Carter and two made free throws to go up 61-53. Miami hit a pair from the free throw line to cut the Ohio advantage down to 61-55. Ohio went on to make five more free throws and Miami made one jumper to give Ohio a 66-57 win.
As a team, Ohio shot 38.5 percent (20-of-52) from the field and 20.0 percent (4-of-20) from behind the three point line. The Bobcats were an impressive 84.6 (22-of-26) from the free throw line and knocked down 18 of their 22 free throws in the second half. Ohio held Miami to just 28.4 percent shooting from the field (19-of-67) and 8-of-32 (25.0 percent) from behind the arc. The second half defense was stellar, allowing Miami to shoot just 21.9 percent (7-of-32) overall and 14.3 percent (2-of-14) from deep.
The RedHawks outrebounded Ohio 44-38 and the Bobcats assisted on 11 baskets compared to nine for Miami.
For the RedHawks, Nike Sibande led Miami with 22 points, followed by Mekhi Lairy would scored 16 points. Bam Bowman led Miami with 11 rebounds while Darrian Ringo dished out a team-high four assists.
Up next, Ohio begins play at the 2019 MAC Tournament when the No. 10 Bobcats head to DeKalb, Ill. to take on No. 7 Northern Illinois on Monday, March 11. Tip-off is set for 9 p.m. ET and can be seen on ESPN+.