Men’s Basketball: Bobcats Best RedHawks On “Gary Trent Day”

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Thirteen-thousand-plus fans witnessed yet another classic game between rivals Ohio and Miami (OH) in the Convocation Center Saturday afternoon, as the Bobcats brought home a 69-65 victory.

In a game which featured the honoring of legendary Ohio forward Gary Trent at halftime, the ‘Cats and RedHawks found themselves in a dogfight to the very end. After Ohio had gained a slight lead late in the game, Julian Mavunga dumped in a layup in the lane to get the Redhawks within two. However, clutch free throws from Ohio’s Nick Kellogg and D.J. Cooper sealed the deal for the Bobcats, putting them up four points to finish the game.

Walter Offutt may have saved the game for Ohio with an offensive rebound in the final minute. Offutt gathered his own miss at the end of the shot clock after the Mavunga lay-up. That rebound turned the shot clock off and Kellogg’s free throws topped it off.

Ohio appeared to be the team that would be scraping to pick up the late-game lead with the Redhawks up eight points with just under six minutes to play. A quick turnaround spanning four minutes put Ohio in the lead. The ‘Cats finished the game on an 18-6 run to pull off their second consecutive victory. The run reached its climax on a steal, drive, and dunk for Offutt to put Ohio in the lead. Offutt finished with 15 points.

“Guys made plays,” said Ohio head coach John Groce, “that’s what good teams do. They find a way to grind it out.”

Groce added that the team looked to any and every outlet to stay in the game. Groce said that he could have brought the whole team with him to the post-game press conference because they all deserved the recognition.

Ohio had four players in double-figures. Ivo Baltic led the way for the ‘Cats, finishing with 20 points. Cooper chipped in 13 points while Reggie Keely added 11 of his own. Keely’s performance was a continuation of his success so far this season.

This game was a tale of two halves for the Bobcats, Keely and Cooper in particular. All of Keely’s points came after the break when he converted three three-point plays. Cooper went 0-6 in the first half from the field, but poured in ten points on 2-4 shooting in the second.

“When I put the percentages up on the board at halftime,” Groce said. “I think some of the guys’ mouths probably dropped. When we got hit in the mouth I thought we responded well.”

The biggest difference between the halves was Ohio’s defense. In the first half, Miami was finding open looks and knocking down easy baskets. The RedHawks shot 67 percent from the field and an astounding 73 percent from three. But Ohio regained focus after the break. That focus combined with an O-Zone-agitating speech from Trent got the Convocation Center rocking and seemed to frustrate Miami players. The RedHawks’ numbers fell off the cliff in the final 20 minutes as they shot 39 percent from the field and just 17 percent from behind the arc.

Hundreds of Ohio students and their dads went home happy Saturday afternoon, celebrating a Bobcats win on the university-sponsored Dads Weekend. The ‘Cats made it a successful Gary Trent Day, fulfilling his halftime request to “finish kicking Miami’s ass.”

With the win Ohio improves to 15-4, 3-2 in the MAC after starting the conference season just 1-2. Ohio has two more home games – Wednesday against Western Michigan and Saturday against Ball State – before heading on the road for six of its last 10 games.