Updated Tue, Mar 5, 2013 9:41 pm
Final: Ohio 72, Buffalo 69
D.J. Cooper: 24 points, 5 assists
Ivo Baltic: 12 points, 6/12 from the field
Will Regan: 20 points, 8 rebounds
Javon McCrea: 19 points, 5 rebounds
Cooper’s clutch: It appeared the Bobcats were in control of the game with nine minutes remaining in regulation, but when they went on a 3:48 scoring drought, Buffalo made a 12-0 run to retake the lead.
The Bulls had built a 69-63 lead when the Bobcats began to claw their way back. Reggie Keely, who had a hard time getting into the flow of the game with four fouls, had three huge points and with a Cooper free throw, the Bobcats were only down 69-67. With 1:43 left, McCrea missed the front end of a 1-and-1 and Jim Christian called a timeout to get his offense set. Nine second later, Cooper dribbled left, stepped back and fired a shot from five feet behind the three-point arc. Swish.
Buffalo wasn’t rattled, though. They were only down, 70-69, and had possession with 30.5 seconds left. With only one point needed and Regan and McCrea dominating down low, the Bulls wanted to feed the big men, but the Ohio bigs stepped up. They denied the inside pass to McCrea and forced Jarryn Skeete to drive, but his shot was rejected out of bounds by Keely. The ensuing inbounds pass was air balled by Tony Watson and went out of bounds. A pair of Nick Kellogg free throws sealed the deal for the Bobcats.
Historic night for Coop: It didn’t take long for Cooper to rewrite the record books, as he nailed a three-pointer at the 15:10 mark to become the all-time leader in Ohio history with 260 career three-pointers. He finished the game with five threes, which gives him 264 career makes.
Another three-pointer at 8:31 gave him eight points on the night, which also gave him over 2,000 career points. Cooper, who finished the game with 24 points, is now the first player in NCAA history with 2,000 points, 900 assists, 600 rebounds and 300 steals in his career.
Baltic’s back?: Baltic has been extremely off in recent games, especially in his start against Bowling Green. He went 1-of-8 from the field for just two points against the Falcons, but coming off the bench against Buffalo was a different story.
The senior started the game by going 5-of-7 from the field for 10 points in the first half, but the second half was not as strong for Baltic, going 1-of-5 for 2 points. It was a good sign to see a slumping Baltic show confidence, as he scored in double digits for the first time since Jan. 23.
McCrea’s foul trouble: Walter Offutt took a huge charge call on Javon McCrea in the first, which gave the reigning MAC East Division Player of the Week two fouls and forced him to sit out the remaining 6:43. McCrea scored nine points in 12 minutes in the first half and finished the game with 19 points and 5 rebounds.
Next up: Ohio will attempt to make it three straight, as they welcome rival Miami (OH) to the Convocation Center on Saturday. The Bobcats will be honoring their five seniors for Senior Day. Tipoff is at 4 p.m.