Ohio Falls in Shootout to Iona

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Everybody had the green light Tuesday night as the under-manned Ohio Bobcats fell to the Iona Gaels 93-88 in a match where both teams attempted more than 25 shots from behind the arc.

The Bobcats rallied to close a late double-digit Iona lead to two points. But true freshman guard Teyvion Kirk and senior forward Gavin Block missed free throws with under a minute to go to extinguish the Bobcats chance for a comeback win.

Head coach Saul Phillips, said missing free throws are a disappointing way to lose a game but players must put the past behind them to be successful.

“We made so many big plays to get back into the game, it’s a tragedy that some missed free throws cost us the chance to get the job done,” Phillips said. “But you don’t yell at your kids about that; we’ll shoot some free throws tomorrow.”

Florida Gulf Coast graduate transfer Kevin Mickle sat out with an injury for the second straight game, senior guard, Mike Laster, led all scorers with 23 points on 53 percent shooting (10-19). Laster also had four rebounds and a block. Despite the missed free throws, Block continued to shoot well from behind the arc, finishing with 18 points on 55 percent (5-9) shooting from deep.

It was obvious the three-ball would be an important factor early on as both the Bobcats and the Gaels traded three point baskets to start the game. It wasn’t until after the first five minutes, when the Bobcats led 21-9, that the games first two-point possession was tallied.

Despite leading by as much as 12 points in the first five minutes of the opening half, the Gaels went on a two minute, 10-0 run to tie the game up at 31 with eight minutes remaining. Both teams jockeyed for the lead over the next five minutes as they continued to find success from behind the arc.

But that success came to a screeching halt as the Bobcats were outscored three to two in the final three minutes of the opening half to tie the game up at 42. While the Bobcats were eight for 15 from three in the first half, the Gaels finished the opening period converting on 10 of their 19 three point attempts.

Ohio fought hard to keep the score close in the first five minutes of the second half but the Gaels took advantage of the depleted Ohio bench and extended their lead. Just seven players logged minutes for the Bobcats while Iona played ten.

While Iona continued to score from behind the arc, the Bobcats were forced to go inside, scoring 22 points in the paint, a vast improvement from the nine they scored in the first half.

But driving to the basket takes a physical toll on a player and that was apparent as the Bobcats struggled to keep up with Iona. With just under five minutes left to play, the Bobcats trailed 79-69.

Thanks to two pairs of clutch threes from Block and sophomore guard Jordan Dartis, the Bobcats went on a 14-4 run to tie the game at 83 with 2:45 left in regulation. Despite fighting to close the double-digit deficit, the Bobcats fell 93-88 after Iona hit clutch shots and made their free throws late in the game.

“I think it’s very clear that this group never believes they are out of a game,” Phillips said. “If we can continue to progress with this mindset and this group, we are going to be awfully fun in March.”

With an even three and three record, the Bobcats look to add to the win column as they welcome the Coppin State Eagles to the Convocation Center Friday night at 7p.m.