ATHENS, Ohio – Thanks to a basket from redshirt sophomore forward Jason Carter with 2.6 seconds remaining, Ohio men's basketball would close out 2018 with a 68-66 win over FIU, in their final nonconference game of the season, Sunday afternoon (Dec. 30) inside the Convocation Center.
"You enter the day, you can either be 8-4 or 7-5," fifth-year head coach Saul Phillips said. "We certainly could have made things easier on ourselves by taking better care of the ball, but our defensive intensity was good all night long. We did a good job particularly on Beard. We needed to get stops and we needed to get scores and we got them. It's kind of fitting that this group would get the go ahead shot on an offensive rebound because that's kind of our identity. It's a good win in the stand point that it's a win, but like any win there's plenty to work on."
Carter (Johnstown, Ohio) led all scorers with 19 points, going 8-of-11 from the field and 3-of-5 from the free throw line. Carter also grabbed nine boards and dished out three assists. Sophomore guard Teyvion Kirk (Joliet, Ill.) added 18 points, going 8-of-22 from the field, while also grabbing nine rebounds. Senior forward Doug Taylor (Columbus, Ohio) added 12 points and 10 rebounds for the double-double, while also registering two blocks. Freshman guard Jason Preston (Orlando, Fla.) also scored in double figures, recording 11 points and dishing out three assists.
The Bobcats would get on the board first in the opening minutes with a floater and a free throw from Preston. Taylor would give Ohio a 5-2 lead with his first dunk of the game at the 17:14 mark, followed by a three-pointer from redshirt freshman forward Ben Vander Plas (Ripon, Wis.) moments after he entered the game, giving Ohio the early 8-2 lead. FIU would cut the Ohio lead to three with 14:41 left before Ohio would go on a 6-0 run, capped by another Taylor dunk, putting Ohio up 16-7 with 12:25 left in the half.
After FIU would get the Ohio lead down to three with 9:27 left, back-to-back under the hoop baskets from Carter would give Ohio a 24-17 lead. A few moments later, a put back basket from Vander Plas would stretch the Ohio lead to nine with just over seven minutes to go in the half.
FIU would then hit back-to-back three pointers to go along with a layup to cut the Bobcats' lead to one point with 5:21 left in the half. A layup from Kirk would spark a 10-0 run for the Bobcats over the next two minutes, giving Ohio a 36-25 lead with 2:39 left. FIU would go on to hit two threes before the end of the half, sending the teams to the locker rooms with the Bobcats leading 38-31.
At the half, the Bobcats shot 50.0 from the field, 14.0 percent from three and 60.0 percent from the free throw line, compared to FIU's 37.0 percent from the field, 32.0 percent from three-point range and 60.0 percent from the free throw line. The Bobcats also outrebounded the Panthers 24-14, dished out eight assists and had two blocks. Ohio forced FIU to turn the ball over 11 times and scored 17 points off of them, while the Panthers capitalized on nine Ohio turnovers, turning them into 10 points
The Bobcats would take an 11-point lead to open the second half off of back-to-back layups form Cater and Kirk. Carter would stretch Ohio's lead to 12 with 16:27 left after hitting a free throw. However, FIU would then go on a 7-0 run to cut the Ohio lead to five before senior guard/forward Gavin Block (Lincoln, Ill.) would drain a three-pointer with 12:54 to go, bringing Ohio's lead to 51-43.
After the Bobcats would stretch the lead to 10 once again, FIU would go on another run, erasing the Bobcats' lead to take a 54-53 lead with 8:19 left in the game. Both teams would start trading baskets over the next four minutes, before a basket from the Panthers would give them a three-point lead with 3:52 left. A Carter field goal would cut the deficit to one, before hitting a free throw with 1:06 left to tie the game at 66-66.
After a defensive stop, the Bobcats would get the ball back with 10.7 seconds to go. Kirk would then release a jumper that would miss the basket, but Carter would be in place to for the offensive board and put-back basket, putting Ohio up 68-66 with 2.6 seconds left. The Bobcats' defense would hold strong and FIU would be unable to get a shot to go at the buzzer, securing Ohio's 68-66 victory.
"I crashed and I saw that Doug had his guy pinned," Carter said on the game-winning basket. "I knew one of us was going to get a hand on it. Doug ended up getting a hand on it and it bounced back to where I was and I just grabbed it and went up with it. That happens more often than not, but it just happened to work on the last play of this game."
Overall, the Bobcats shot 50.9 percent from the field, 16.7 percent from three-point range and 61.5 percent from the free throw line, while FIU shot 36.7 percent from the field, 31.6 percent from three-point range and 60.0 percent from the free throw line. The Bobcats outrebounded the Panthers 44-27, while dishing out 14 assists and three blocks to FIU's 13 assists and one block. The Bobcats would score 52 points in the paint and score 19 points off of 15 FIU turnover, while the Panthers scored 36 points in the paint and scored 24 points off of 23 Ohio miscues.
For FIU, the Panthers were led by Brian Beard, Jr. who scored 13 points, going 5-of-3 from the field, and dishing out six assists. Marcus Burwell added nine points, going 3-of-7 from three-point range, and Willy Nunez, Jr. and Michael Douglas would both add eight points for FIU.
Up next, Ohio takes the floor for the first time in 2019 when Ohio opens Mid-American Conference play on Saturday, Jan. 5. Tip-off is set for 2 p.m. inside the Convocation Center and will be seen on ESPN3.