KENT, Ohio– The Ohio men's basketball team (12-15, 4-11 MAC) returned to action on Tuesday (Feb. 26) night. Falling to Kent State (20-8, 9-6 MAC), 78-73, in a back-and-forth battle that saw nine lead changes, most of which came late in the second half.
"If you look at the one huge individual rebounding performance with Frederick, he had eight offensive rebounds," fifth-year head coach Saul Phillips said. "There was a lot of long rebounds that they were able to chase down. I'm didn't feel that we got completely out muscled. I thought we scored well in the paint on our end. But if you end up shooting 22 less field goal attempts than our opponents, then it puts you in a spot where you have to be really, really efficient. And that was the case tonight. We played admirably offensively tonight, but It wasn't enough to close the gap."
Leading Ohio was redshirt sophomore forward Jason Carter (Johnstown, Ohio), who scored 20 points, going 7-of-9 from the field, 3-of-3 from three-point range and 3-of-4 from the free throw line. He also grabbed five rebounds, dished out three assists and had one block. Senior forward Doug Taylor (Columbus, Ohio), finished with 12 points. Going 5-of-7 from the field and had two blocks. Freshman guard Jason Preston (Orlando, Fla.) finished with 11 points, while grabbing a team-high eight rebounds and dished out eight assists without a turnover. Sophomore guard Teyvion Kirk (Joliet, Ill.) finished with 11 points, while senior guard/forward Gavin Block (Lincoln, Ill.) finished with nine points and four assists.
After Kent State won the tip to open the game, the Bobcats would get the first points off of a layup from Kirk. After Kent State tied it up, Taylor would register a layup of his own to retake the lead. Ohio and the Flashes would trade baskets, with Kent State taking a 10-9 lead with 12:56 left in the half. However, Kent State would go on a 14-2 run to take a 24-12 lead with 8:24 to go.
The Bobcats would bounce back, starting with back-to-back threes from Block and Preston, cutting the Kent State lead to 26-18. Then back-to-back layups from Preston and Kirk would cut the Kent State lead to four with 4:38 left. Then after trading baskets over the next four minutes, the Bobcats would trail the Flashes, 35-28, but Carter would drain a three-pointer at the buzzer, cutting the Bobcats deficit to 35-31 entering the locker room.
At the half, Ohio shot 52.2 percent from the field, 37.5 percent from three-point range and 66.7 percent from the free throw line, while Kent State shot 45.7 percent from the field, 22.2 percent from three-point range and 33.3 percent from the free throw line. Ohio was out rebounded, 18-13, but the Bobcats dished out 10 assists, had two steals and one block, while the Flashes had seven assists, three steals and one block.
The second half saw the Bobcats get on the board first with a Taylor layup, cutting the lead to 35-33. Kent State would then go on an 8-2 run to take an eight-point lead before Carter would hit two free throws to stop the run. Kent State would then get the points back, going up 47-37 with 13:44 left.
A Block three would start a 6-0 run for Ohio that would cut the Kent State lead back to four. After Kent State would go back up eight with just over 10 minutes to go, a jumper from Taylor and a layup from Carter would bring the Bobcats within one with 9:07 to go in the game. Ohio and Kent State would trade baskets once again, before another three from Block would put Ohio ahead for the first time since the opening minutes.
The Bobcats biggest lead of the night would come moments later when redshirt sophomore guard Connor Murrell (Sioux City, Iowa) would drain a three, putting Ohio up 61-57 with 6:11 to go. However, two quick buckets from Kent State would give the Flashes the lead back, before a Carter trey would out the Bobcats back up one with 5:10 left.
After Kent State would go back up four, Ohio would go on a 5-0 run to erase the deficit once again, capped by a field goal form Kirk. After the Bobcats would go on to tie the game back up at 71-71 with 1:50 left on a Murrell jumper, the Flashes would retake the lead and keep it the remainder of the game, with the Bobcats falling 78-73.
Overall, Ohio shot 52.9 percent from the field, 44.4 percent from three-point range and 61.1 percent from the free throw line, while Kent State shot 43.8 percent from the field, 40.0 percent from three-point range and 50.0 percent from the free throw line. Ohio was out rebounded 39-33, but dished out 22 assists, had three steals and four blocks to Kent State's 17 assists, four steals and two blocks.
For Kent State, Jaylin Walker scored a game-high 23 points, going 8-of-21 from the field, 4-of-9 from three-point range and grabbed six rebounds. Antonio Williams scored 15 points and grabbed six rebounds, while Akiean Frederick added 10 points and a team-high nine rebounds.
Up next, the Bobcats head to Akron, Ohio on Saturday, March 2 to take on Akron. Tip-off is set for 2 p.m. inside James A. Rhodes Arena.