Doug Taylor fights for a loose rebound. (Daniel Linhart/WOUB)

Ohio Men’s Basketball: ‘Cats Scratch Out Win Over FIU

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With 9.4 seconds left, Teyvion Kirk began his drive deep on the right wing.

The point guard dribbled to the top of the key, pulled up into a step back jump shot from 17 feet.

The next thing his shot touched was the hand of Doug Taylor, who tipped the missed shot down into the hands of Jason Carter.

Carter hastily threw up a shot while falling backward with three Florida International players bearing down on him that went high off the backboard and through the hoop to give Ohio a 68-66 lead with 2.7 seconds remaining.

The Golden Panthers (9-4) desperation three at the buzzer drew nothing but air and the Bobcats (8-4) were victorious in their final game of 2018.

“Me and Jason have come to the conclusion that if a shot goes up, either I’m gonna get a hand on it or he is,” Bobcat forward Doug Taylor said. “So, when the game comes down to a one-possession game and there’s a tough shot going up, we know what to do.”

Carter and Taylor didn’t just wait for crunch time to make big plays, either. The duo did it all game long.

The forwards were a big factor in the Bobcats outscoring FIU 52-36 in the paint and outrebounding the Panthers 44-27.

“When we were watching the film, we knew that with the way they played, we gonna be able to have a significant advantage down there,” Carter said. “He told us all practice to get to the boards. Coach knew this game that we could get back to it.”

Carter finished with a game-high 19 points, going 8-of-11 from the field, and hauling in 9 rebounds. Taylor ended with 12 points on a perfect 6-of-6 from the field while grabbing 10 boards of his own.

However, for a majority of the game, a game-winning putback layup in the closing seconds would not have crossed the minds of those in the Convo.

At the 12 minute mark of the second half, the ‘Cats held a 10-point lead and had never been tied with FIU, let alone trailed.

It was at this point that the turnover bug came back to bite Ohio again.

The Bobcats squandered the lead thanks to 14 second half turnovers, leading to a season-high 23 turnovers in the game.

“They ratcheted up their pressure in the second half. They were more willing to double every time,” Ohio head coach Saul Phillips said. “The biggest difference from the first half to the second half was the way we attacked. We were much more passive in the second half.”

The Bobcats were able to muscle the win away from FIU in the closing minutes thanks to their defense. Down 66-63 with three minutes to play, Ohio held the Golden Panthers scoreless for the final 3:06.

“We were talking the other day at practice…would you rather have the ball needing to score to win the game or have to get a stop to win the game,” Phillips said. “I think, without question, that we feel very comfortable getting one stop.”

The Bobcats didn’t get just one stop. They got five stops to close the game.

Ohio had two others finish with double-figure scoring nights. Kirk threw in 18 points while grabbing nine rebounds and Jason Preston posted his first double-digit scoring night since November 12 against Campbell, finishing with 11 points.

Gavin Block appeared on the score sheet in a way that would seem to be hard to do: the senior drew five charges on the night. A feat that Coach Phillips said that he had never seen in all his years in basketball.

The win over FIU closes out non-conference play for the Bobcats. Their next game will be their first in Mid-American Conference play and it comes next Saturday at the Convo with a matchup against Northern Illinois.