Updated Thu, Mar 27, 2014 2:26 pm
It is difficult to imagine the nation’s most explosive offense struggling for an entire game, and unfortunately for Ohio, it didn’t. Virginia Military Institute overcame a cold first half to defeat Ohio 92-90 in the CIT quarterfinals Wednesday.
After shooting 32.4 percent and trailing for most of the first half, VMI exploded for 53 second half points on 19 of 28 shooting after halftime. Even with VMI’s offensive efficiency, Ohio hung with the Keydets and had a chance to tie the game in the closing moments.
Following a corner Nick Kellogg 3-pointer and a missed Brian Brown layup, the Bobcats had the ball trailing 86-83 with a little over a minute remaining. Without a timeout, Ohio could not draw up a play, causing the offense to become stagnant. The ball found its way into Stevie Taylor’s hands. Taylor waved off several screens and forced up a contested 3-pointer that went begging at the end of the shot clock.
The Keydets salted the game away with free throws following the Taylor miss. The loss to VMI marked the end of the careers of the winningest class in Ohio history. Senior Nick Kellogg went out on somewhat of a high note, posting a season-high 30 points.
“To go out on that note, is something that I’m proud of,” Kellogg said.
With Ohio leading 53-45, QJ Peterson ignited the Keydets’ second half comeback and 9-0 run with a layup. Peterson got VMI going, but Rodney Glasgow gave the Keydets the lead with a 3-pointer from the top of the key. Then, after Stevie Taylor gave Ohio a 55-54 lead on a layup high off the glass, Glasgow came down and hit another 3-pointer, this one coming from the wing with Taylor heavily contesting the shot to put VMI ahead 57-55. Glasgow led VMI with 30 points in the game.
“They made every big shot, every big free throw, and I give them credit,” head coach Jim Christian said.
Ohio simply could not keep up with VMI in the second half. It is difficult for a team like Ohio to run with a team that is accustomed to pushing the tempo for a full 40 minutes. Every time it looked like Ohio was going to make a push and reclaim the lead, VMI countered with a run of its own.
After Kellogg went to the line and sank a pair of free throws to tie the game at 59, VMI came down at the other end and found D.J. Covington down low, who was a problem all night, scoring 29 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. Covington went up strong, drawing a foul. The senior forward made his first attempt but missed his second.
However, Ohio’s fatigue showed on the rebound off the missed free throw, as two Bobcats let the ball bounce between them right into Brian Brown’s hands. Brown then rifled it to Tim Marshall, who knocked down a wide open 3-pointer to put VMI up 70-62.
Ohio got off to a blazing start offensively, shooting 14 of its first 20 shots and building a double-digit lead. Maurice Ndour was a big reason for the Bobcats’ strong start, as the junior forward scored 18 of his 26 points in the first 20 minutes.
Even with the loss, Ohio wrapped up one of the most successful seasons in school history. The Bobcats finished with 25 wins for only the third time in school history. They also made a postseason tournament for the fifth straight season.