Instant Reaction: Ohio Recovers, Defeats Miami 58-54

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Saturday afternoon’s game between Miami and Ohio, the final game of the regular season, marked the 191st time these two teams squared off on the hardwood. With a win Ohio could take a share of the MAC regular season title, but Miami wasn’t going to make it easy for Ohio. Despite sloppy play in the first half, Ohio battled back from a 12-0 deficit late in the second half to win 58-54 and win a share of the MAC regular season title.

Sloppy Start:

The first half started off slow, with sloppy play by both teams. At the second media timeout of the half, Ohio was hitting on just 31 percent of its shots. Miami connected on just 20 percent. Neither team was able to set a pace, or tone. The ‘Cats turned the ball over an eye-popping six times in the first eight minutes, but managed to lead 12-8 at the 11:30 mark.

Both teams struggled to control the ball, neither able to notch an assists to turnover ratio above 1.0 at the halfway point. To make matters worse, neither team was able to convert on the turnovers. Miami tied the game up at 15 apiece on a free-throw by Will Felder with just over eight minutes left in the half. Felder drained a 3-pointer with just over five minutes left to put Miami up 22-20. Felder picked up his offensive game, as Ohio’s struggles continued. At halftime the RedHawks led 28-22.

First Half Key Stats:

·      Ohio managed to connect on just 18 percent of its shots for the first half. They missed 10 shots in a row in the final minutes of the half. The RedHawks connected on 37 percent.

·      The ‘Cats managed just a 0.4 assist-to-turnover ratio for the first half, Ohio averages a 1.42 ratio, good enough for eighth in the nation.

·      Will Felder led all scorers with 14 points in the first half for the RedHawks.

Second Half Heroics:

The second half picked up much like the first half started, slow and low-scoring. Four minutes into the half the score was just 34-27 Miami. The RedHawks were able to continue to slow the pace down and force the ‘Cats out of their game. Miami was able to jump out to a 12-point lead at the 14-minute mark, thanks to a seven-to-one advantage on the boards. Reggie Johnson and Felder set the pace for the RedHawks for a 71 percent field goal percentage to start the half.

Stevie Taylor drained a three with less than 12 minutes remaining, following it up with a tough defensive stand that forced a Miami shot clock violation. It seemed to be the spark Ohio needed. The ‘Cats went on a 12-0 run over the next four minutes to tie the game up at 44 on a Taylor steal-and-drive. Taylor nabbed his third steal in as many minutes and found a wide open D.J. Cooper for three to give Ohio a 47-44 lead with 7:01 left on the clock. A big-time shot-block by Jon Smith and a held ball call seconds later sealed the win for Ohio.

Second Half Key Stats:

·      Ohio went on a 15-0 run halfway through the second half to come back from a 12-point deficit and take the lead with seven minutes left. The Bobcats never trailed again.

·      After shooting just 18 percent from the field to start the game, Ohio managed to hit 46 percent in the second half.

·      Will Felder was held to just six points in the second half. He still managed to lead all scorers with 20 points in the game.

·      D.J. Cooper and Stevie Taylor combined for 25 points and five steals in the backcourt for Ohio.

Senior Night:

In the final home game for the most-winning senior class in Ohio basketball history, head coach Jim Christian opted for an all senior starting lineup. D.J. Cooper, Walter Offutt, Ivo Baltic, Reggie Keely and David McKinley all got the start. For McKinley, it marks the first start in his career. The walk-on has been an important part of the team’s success over the past four seasons.