Photo Cred: Ohio Athletics

Late Push from Simmons Gives Ohio Win over Northern Illinois

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A late charge from Jaaron Simmons propelled Ohio to an 80-69 victory.

With 5:10 to go in the game, Ohio had blown a 16-point halftime lead and trailed 65-62. Antonio Campbell put up a 3-pointer and missed. The rebound was tipped around until Campbell went sliding for the rebound and got it around half court. He then threw it ahead to Treg Setty, who gave it to Kenny Kaminski. Kaminski proceeded to drill a mid-range jumper to make it a 65-64 NIU lead.

“That was a momentum changer,” freshman Jordan Dartis said. “We were talking about getting more 50-50 balls and being a tougher team. Kenny and Tony stepped up, showing their leadership on that play.”

After that play, Simmons took over. He scored or assisted on 15 of Ohio’s last 16 points. The score remained 65-64 until the under-four timeout. Simmons hit two free throws and give Ohio a 66-65 lead.

“I didn’t want to lose, so I did whatever I had to do whether that was dropping it off to a teammate or getting a bucket or get to the line,” Simmons said. “That was my mindset. I had to do it.”

Aaric Armstead converted a layup to take the lead right back, 67-66. Ohio scored just 20 seconds later when Simmons nailed a three, which brought the crowed to a roar. Then Kaminski got a block at the rim. In transition, Simmons found Dartis for a three. At that point, Ohio led 72-67 with 2:51 left in the game.

A layup by Travon Baker made it a four-point game, 73-69. Simmons continued to put on a show when he threw a laser to Campbell who hit a reverse layup. Northern Illinois tried to answer the score, but with 1:38 left, Treg Setty took a charge.

On the ensuing possession, with the shot clock winding down, Simmons came off a Campbell pick and hit a foul line jumper to make it a 77-69 Bobcats lead. Ohio then iced the game at the foul line with three free throws.

Simmons scored 24 points, dished out 12 assists and had only one turnover in the win.

“I’m going to let you in on a little secret, Jaaron Simmons is pretty good,” head coach Saul Phillips said. “He had that look in his eye that was ‘like we aren’t loosing today.’”

The first half was all Ohio. Northern Illinois came into the game giving up the fewest points per game in the MAC at 65.5. Ohio scored 49 points in the half, hitting seven threes and shooting 61 percent.

Just a few minutes into the game, Dartis had to leave because of a bloody lip. He returned two minutes later. When he returned, his impact was felt immediately. The sophomore guard made a 3-pointer after just 20 seconds of action. That three made it 9-7 in favor of Ohio with 14:40 left in the game.

A minute later Kaminski, hit a 3-pointer and the score was 12-9. An Armstead three made it 16-14 Ohio. The Bobcats went on a 15-5 run after that, which was capped off by five straight points by Simmons. Two straight 3-balls by Dartis made it 37-24 with 4:46 left in the half. For the remaining 4:46 in the half, Ohio hit two more threes and scored 12-points.

“I was disappointed in the way we defended in the second half,” Huskies head coach Mark Montgomery said.

To begin the second half, the Huskies went on a 17-2 run for and were down 55-53 with 12:41 left in the game. Ohio held on to the lead for three minutes, but Levi Brown hit a layup with 9:25 left in the game and Northern Illinois led 60-59. The two teams traded baskets until the hustle play by Campbell and then Simmons took over.

Dartis finished the game with 17 points. Setty chipped in 12, and Campbell had 11. For the Huskies Armstead, had 15 points and 10 rebounds. Marin Maric had 11 points and 10 rebounds before fouling out.

Up next for the Bobcats, they travel to Muncie, Indiana to take on the Ball State Cardinals Tuesday. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.