Ohio University redshirt sophomore guard Jaaron Simmons (#2) drives to the net against the Northern Illinois defense at the Convocation Center in Athens, Ohio on Saturday. The Bobcats defeated the Huskies, 80-69, and Simmons recorded his fifth double-double of the season. (Nicole Raucheisen/WOUB)

Kenny Kaminski’s Game-Winner Allows Ohio to Overcome Cold Start and Advance

By: ,
Posted on:

< < Back to

In March, the goal is to survive and advance.

This is what Ohio did against the Toledo Rockets in Thursday’s Mid-American Conference Tournament quarterfinals, thanks to Kenny Kaminski.

Coach Saul Phillips elected not to call a timeout following Akron’s Steve Taylor Jr. missing the front end of his free throws. Jaaron Simmons drove down the lane and kicked it out to Kaminski, who took two dribbles and drilled a left-elbow jumper to give Ohio a 67-66 lead with 7.8 seconds left.

Toledo’s Jonathan Williams drove the length of the court and released a shot inside the paint, but misfired. Jordan Lauf missed the shot off the rebound as the horn went off, securing a 1-point victory for Ohio.

“Jaaron and I came in three years ago with a dream and we had promised each other that we’re going to do everything we possibly can to get this group of guys in the NCAA tournament, and we kind of had some struggle throughout the game and faced some adversity. Kaminski said. “But at the end of the day, Jaaron was able to find me the ball and I was able to make a big shot.”

The first half was not pretty offensively for Ohio. For the first 16 minutes, the Bobcats had arguably their worst shooting performance of the year.

Ohio was 2-of-13 from beyond the arc and 3-of-6 from the line in the first half.

The Bobcats endured a seven-minute stretch where they scored only four points. Toledo led 26-11 with seven minutes left in the first half.

The two teams traded baskets until a Jason Carter put-back bucket cut the lead to single digits.

Despite this poor shooting, Ohio was down 37-29 halftime.

But something changed when the Bobcats returned to the court. Ohio went on a 12-0 run to start the third quarter, taking a 41-37 lead. Strong plays from Mike Laster, Gavin Block, Simmons and Carter fueled Ohio throughout the third quarter.

The teams once again traded buckets during the second half. A Simmons layup gave Ohio a 64-61 lead with 1:57 remaining. Nate Navigato responded, burying a triple with 48 seconds left, tying the game.

The Bobcats managed to do just enough when it mattered outlast their opponent.

Ohio’s high energy allowed them to come up with many critical loose balls, countering its struggles.

“We were getting 50‑50 balls when it wasn’t even going very well for us.  Gavin Block in the first half, getting on the floor, saving two points. Mike Laster seemed to get a lot. He (Kaminski) got his hands on a lot of different things defensively,” Phillips said.

Simmons had 24 points, four rebounds and four assists. In his first tournament game, Carter scored 19 points and 12 rebounds. Kaminski totaled nine points and four rebounds. For the Rockets, Williams had 18 points, despite missing time with an injury. Lauf finished with 12 points.

This win gives Ohio its second straight season with 20 victories.

Ohio faces Kent State Friday. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m.

“It’s a good time of the year to put forth a little extra effort or else you’re on a bus home instead of getting to hang around a little while longer,” Phillips said.