Photo Credit: Carter Eckl

Impressive Finish Sends ‘Cats to CBI Semi’s

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A huge run over the game’s final seven minutes Monday night helped Ohio edge UNC Greensboro 72-67 and advance to the semifinals of the College Basketball Invitational.

After being trapped near the sideline as the shot clock wound down, Jordan Dartis heaved up a falling away 3-pointer. When it fell, Ohio took the lead with 24 seconds left, and two Jaaron Simmons free throws with just 14 seconds to play sealed what seemed like a miracle win for the Bobcats.

“It just went in,” Dartis said, chuckling. “I just hit a good shot. It felt good. We’re not done playing yet.”

Ohio led for a total of 3:22 the entire game, but a 25-5 run over the final 7:22 spoiled a UNCG lead that got as big as 15 in the second half.

The Bobcats shot an uncharacteristic 25 percent from 3-point land on the night. UNCG finished the game shooting a superior 36 percent, but weren’t able to hit their biggest shots like Ohio did. With just under three minutes to go, both Simmons and Dartis topped off the run as they each hit a three-pointer to give the Bobcats a late lead.

Not only did Ohio make its critical shots, it made its critical stops. The Bobcats made 11 defensive stops on UNCG’s final 13 possessions, and the mighty comeback would not have been possible without making several crucial stops when it counted.

Simmons finished with a game-high 19 points, and his eight assists give him a total of 268 on the year, breaking the MAC single season assist record held by former Bobcat D.J. Cooper.

Tony Campbell contributed 17 points and 19 rebounds to the mix, notching his 17th double-double of the year. Treg Setty followed up his 30-point performance by chipping in 12 points and nabbing six boards. His nice feed to Campbell for a powerful two-handed slam ended UNCG’s 15-4 run and began the run that would seal it for the Bobcats. Dartis scored 14 points, going 2-3 from long range.

For the Spartans, Diante Baldwin seemed like a mainstay in the paint, driving and getting to the rack with relative ease in the second half. He finished with 17 points to lead UNCG. Two other Spartans scored in double digits as Marvin Smith and R.J. White scored 16 and 11, respectively.

Winning this game came down to Ohio’s ability to step up defensively and hit the clutch shots, but its effort on the boards, where it outrebounded UNCG 42-30 Monday night, and free throw shooting down the stretch, going 15-17 against the Spartans, were key elements in gutting out tough wins in the first two rounds of the CBI.

“[Our guys] just don’t like losing,” Saul Phillips said. “If you get into a pickup game with our guys at Ping, you’re in for it. That’s all there is to it. They just don’t like to lose.”

After winning another thriller, the Green and White will remain at home and face Morehead State Wednesday night in the CBI’s semifinals.