YPSILANTI, Mich. - Behind one of the greatest second half comebacks in program history, the Ohio University men's basketball team (14-5, 4-2) surged past Eastern Michigan (11-8, 4-2) to pick up a 58-56 win Saturday afternoon at EMU's Convocation Center.
Ohio trailed by 13 (51-38) with 7:45 to play before outscoring the Eagles 20-5 over the game's final minutes. Ohio trailed for 39:33 of a possible 40 minutes in the contest but never lost its intensity while going 6-of-7 from the field in the game's final minutes.
Junior guard Javarez Willis (Homer, La.) hit the go ahead 3-pointer for Ohio with 27 seconds remaining in the game.
With the victory, Ohio improves its MAC road record to 3-0 and continues its program-best away streak. Ohio has now won 11 of its past 12 MAC road contests. Overall, Ohio has won five-straight road games in 2013-14.
The Bobcats shot just 20.0 percent (6-30) in the first half, but put together a much-improved 46.7 percent (14-30) effort in the second half, including a 6-of-12 (.500) mark from 3-point territory. The `Cats held a +3 (45-42) edge on the glass in the game and grabbed 15 offensive rebounds - the most by Ohio since the Nov. 26 win over Mercer. Ohio distributed 14 assists on 20 made field goals and grabbed eight steals in the game.
Despite fouling out with five minutes to play, junior guard Stevie Taylor (Gahanna, Ohio) provided an offensive spark all day for the `Cats and finished with a team-high 14 points on 5-of-9 shooting (3-6 3pt FG).
Willis tied his season high with 12 points and connected on a season-high four 3-point field goals in the game (4-8 FG, 4-7 3pt FG). Senior guard Nick Kellogg (Westerville, Ohio) added 12 points on 5-of-11 shooting, while junior forward Maurice Ndour (Mbour, Senegal) tallied seven points and a career-high 14 rebounds in 36 minutes on the floor.
Ndour and senior forward Jon Smith (Grove City, Ohio) knocked down four of Ohio's final six field goals. Smith finished with a season-high 10 rebounds and four points (2-3 FG).
Eastern Michigan scored the first nine points of the game and led 16-5 at the 11:50 mark of the first half. Back-to-back 3-pointers from Taylor pulled Ohio back within five (20-15) with 7:54 to go in the half but could not get any closer for the remainder of the stanza. The Bobcats trailed by eight (30-22) at the half after shooting just 20 percent (6-30) from the floor in the period.
The Eagles extended their edge to 12 (39-27) early in the second half, before a 3-pointer from Nick Kellogg cut the lead to seven (39-32) with 12:13 to play in the game. From there, EMU extended its lead to 13 (51-38) with 7:45 to play, and Ohio again began a comeback to get within seven (55-48) with 3:25 to go in the game.
From there, a jumper from Smith and triple from Kellogg got Ohio within two (55-53). After an Ndour jumper to tie it, Willis knocked down the key 3-pointer and the Bobcats stopped EMU on it final possession to hang on for the win.
The victory gave Ohio its first win in Ypsilanti since the 2005-06 season.
Ohio returns to action on Wednesday (Jan. 29) with a home contest against MAC West foe Central Michigan Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. inside the Convocation Center. Pre-game coverage on the Ohio IMG Sports Network begins at 6:30 p.m.