OXFORD, Ohio – Down 10 points with just over three minutes to go, the Ohio men's basketball team (16-15, 8-10 MAC), led by sophomore guard Jason Preston (Orlando, Fla.) and freshman guard Miles Brown (Rochester, N.Y.), pulled off a 67-65 victory over Miami (12-19, 5-13 MAC), securing the Bobcats a Mid-American Conference Tournament First Round game inside the Convocation Center on Monday (March 9) against Central Michigan.
"I think it just shows the resolve and grit and determination of our guys," head coach Jeff Boals said. "Going into the last war, it was 59-50 with 3:47 to go. And then it was a 10-point game with 2:15 to go, and give our guys credit. They made plays when they needed to. Earlier in the year, we lose that game. I think in the second half of MAC play we're 6-3 and could easily be 8-1. They're playing with a lot a belief and confidence. To do that without Ben Vander Plas and a non-100 percent Jordan Dartis, hats off to our guys."
Ohio was led by Preston, who scored 24 points, going 8-of-15 from the field, including a career-high 5-of-9 from three-point range, and grabbed five rebounds and dished out seven assists. Freshman guard Lunden McDay (Akron, Ohio) finished with 16 points, going 4-of-8 from the field, including 2-of-3 from three-point range and 6-of-7 from the free throw line. He also grabbed nine rebounds. Freshman forward Ben Roderick (Powell, Ohio) wrapped up the game with 11 points, while freshman guard Brown (Rochester, N.Y.) finished with four points, including the game-winning layup.
Overall, Ohio shot 39.7 percent from the field, including 33.3 percent from three-point range, and was 11-of-15 from the free throw line, while Miami shot 45.8 percent from the field, including 21.4 percent from three-point range, and was 15-of-19 from the free throw line. Ohio out-rebounded the RedHawks, 35-30, while Ohio dished out 12 assists to Miami's nine.
Miami recorded the first points of the game before back-to-back layups from graduate transfer forward Sylvester Ogbonda (Port Harcourt, Nigeria) and McDay put Ohio up by two. After Miami tied the game at 4-4, a layup from redshirt senior guard Jordan Dartis (Newark, Ohio) gave Ohio a two-point lead going into the first media timeout. Out of the timeout, a layup from Preston gave Ohio a four-point lead. After a Miami layup and free throw, a free throw from McDay gave the Bobcats a 9-7 lead going into the second media timeout.
Two more McDay free throws out of the timeout increased Ohio's lead to 11-7. After a Miami jumper, another Dartis layup and a Roderick three put Ohio up 16-11 going into the under-eight media timeout. Out of the timeout, Preston hit two free throws to take an 18-11 lead. However, Miami went on a 9-0 run to take a 20-18 lead, forcing an Ohio timeout with 4:16 left in the half.
Out of the timeout, a three from McDay put the Bobcats back in the lead. After a Miami layup put them up 22-21, Ohio went on an 8-0 run that included threes from Roderick and Preston to give the Bobcats a 29-22 lead at the half
At the half, Ohio shot 35.7 percent from the field, including 30.8 percent from three-point range, and was 5-of-6 from the free throw line, while Miami shot 36 percent from the field, including 6.3 percent from three-point range, and was 3-of-4 from the free throw line. Ohio out-rebounded the RedHawks, 19-16 and dished out eight assists to Miami's three.
McDay led Ohio with eight points at the half, while Preston added seven points, four assists and three rebounds.
Miami opened the second half with two free throws before a jumper from Ogbonda got the points back for the Bobcats. After a four-point play for Miami, a Preston three put Ohio up 34-29 with 17:17 left in the game. After Miami cut the Ohio lead to two, a three from McDay put the Bobcats up 37-32 going into the first media timeout. Out of the timeout, a Miami jumper was matched by a Preston three, however, Miami went on a 7-0 run to take a 41-40 lead going into the under-12 media timeout.
Out of the timeout, a free throw from Preston tied the game. However, a 5-0 run from Miami put the RedHawks up, 46-41 and forced an Ohio timeout with 8:59 left in the game. After Miami took a 49-41 lead, McDay hit two free throws to cut the Miami lead to 49-43. However, Miami went on to take a 54-43 lead before a dunk from Ogbonda and a layup from Roderick cut the RedHawks' lead to 54-47. However, Miami went on to take a 59-50 lead going into the final media timeout.
Out of the timeout, Miami took a 60-50 lead before Preston drained a three to cut the lead to 60-53. After Miami took a 10-point lead off of a made three-pointer with 3:10 left, the Bobcats' offense caught fire. Seven-straight points from Preston, including a deep three with 1:56 left, tied the game at 63-63. After Brown hit two free throws to give Ohio a two-point lead, a layup from Miami tied the game at 65-65. Then, with 14 seconds left, Brown snagged the rebound off a missed three from Preston and converted a layup, putting Ohio up 67-65 and sealing the victory for the Bobcats.
Up next, the Bobcats open the 2020 MAC Tournament on Monday against Central Michigan inside the Convocation Center. Gametime will be determined following the Ohio women's basketball game tomorrow (March 7) afternoon.