[Grant Kiefer | WOUB]

Seniors show up in big moments, lead Ohio to hard-fought win

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ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB) –  It’s March 1, there’s no better time in sports than March Madness,” Ohio coach Jeff Boals said, after earning his 150th career win and 14th in the month of March. Ohio took down Bowling Green 66-59 on Friday night. 

Ahead of Friday’s conference matchup, Ohio honored its two senior guards, Jaylin Hunter and Miles Brown. The pair have combined to score 30% of the Bobcats points this season, posting 23.8 per game. 

“Just thank you, thank you,” Brown said to Bobcat fans after his final game at the Convo. “The guys sitting from the front row all the way up into the top I feel like we’re just connected and we’re just a family.” 

Pregame festivities didn’t translate into a great start for either team, with little offensive success in the opening minutes. After eight minutes, the teams combined for 10 points and 10 turnovers.  

A bit of a shocking start considering both the Bobcats and Falcons have top-five scoring offenses in the MAC.  

Despite the rocky beginnings, Brown made a pair of free throws, and added a made three on the next possession to kickstart the Ohio offense after what felt like an eternity of waiting. 

Midway through the half, the Bowling Green offense began to find its legs as well. Senior guard Trey Thomas made a deep three at the shot clock buzzer, a part of a 8-0 run, to give Bowling Green a 24-19 lead.  

Ohio called a quick timeout to reset as a tight first half was slipping away. Out of the break, Brown knocked down a mid-range jumper to settle Ohio down. Shortly after, Shereef Mitchell added consecutive 3-pointers to tie the game at 28.  

With just 3.7 seconds remaining in the first half, Ohio got possession back and nearly converted a scoop putback by Ajay Sheldon. However, after an extensive review, it was ruled the shot came after time had expired, and the teams went into the locker room even. 

Miles Brown shoots a free throw in Ohio's game against Bowling Green
Miles Brown shoots a free throw in Ohio’s game against Bowling Green [Conor Mallonn | WOUB]
Brown credited the late surge in the first half to Ohio trusting that shots were going to start falling. 

“We just wanted to lock in defensively. Once we really locked in our defense, we knew our offense would come, and you saw that at the end of the half,” Brown said. 

Early in the second half, Falcons big-man duo of Jason Spurgin and Rashaun Agee began to take advantage of their size and cause damage in the paint. Agee scored 10 of his 17 points in the second half and collected 11 rebounds on the night to earn his 15th double-double of the season.  

Every time Ohio was building momentum and pulling away, Bowling Green answered, and kept the game close until the last moments. 

After the under four media timeouts, it was announced that a technical foul had been assessed to Boals. That resulted in Bowling Green making four consecutive free throws to tie the game at 57 with under three minutes to play. 

“Don’t talk about my technical, my wife’s going to kill me,” Boals said jokingly postgame. “I’m going to make an oath; no more technical [fouls] because it almost cost us again.” 

But it did not cost Ohio. Primarily because of the late-game clutch shooting. 

Hunter, who was 0-7 from the field, nailed a go-ahead corner three to send the Convo into a frenzy. A few moments later, AJ Clayton added the knockout punch from the top of the key, extending the Bobcats lead to 63-57 with only 30 seconds to go.  

Even after the difficult shooting night, Ohio put the ball in the hands of its stars, and it paid off in a big way.  

“Early in the year we were losing these games,” Boals said. “We’re a completely different team right now, different focus, different mindset, different mentality and playing with a lot of confidence.” 

For Hunter, even though his night didn’t include a standard scoring outburst, he found ways to affect the game and lead Ohio to a final home win on the 2023-24 campaign. 

Thank you for embracing me with open arms,” Hunter said as his parting words with Ohio fans. “Sticking with myself and this team through tough times, and we’re going to try and pay it off up in Cleveland.” 

Before Ohio heads to Cleveland for the Mid-American Conference tournament, it will play a pair of road games at Buffalo and Miami to cap the regular season.