Feb. 29, 2012
KENT, Ohio – After trailing by 18, Ohio rallied in the second half but could not complete the comeback, falling at Kent State, 68-61, on Wednesday night. The loss drops the Bobcats (23-7, 10-5) back to the No. 3 position in the Mid-American Conference standings.
D.J. Cooper carried an Ohio offense that shot only 36 percent, with a season-high 23 points. The junior also registered five rebounds and four assists which leaves him two shy of the Ohio all-time mark.
Nick Kellogg finished with 10 points for Ohio, T.J. Hall added eight points and four rebounds and Walter Offutt had eight points. Jon Smith had six points, five rebounds and four steals while Reggie Keely grabbed a team-high eight rebounds.
However, the Ohio post players struggled offensively as Keely had only four points and six turnovers and Ivo Baltic was just 1 of 7 with four points and four fouls.
Carlton Guyton scored all nine of his points in the early going, hitting three first-half treys. Cooper tied the score at 13 with 13:34 left in the first half and Hall connected on a 3-pointer with 12:11 remaining to make it 16-15. However, the Golden Flashes dominated the next 10 minutes, outscoring the Bobcats 24-5 in that span.
Kent State led 39-21 with 2:28 left in the first half and was on top 53-37 with 12 minutes left in the game, but Ohio made a push.
The Bobcats did not cut the deficit to single digits until a Baltic jumper with 6:42 left made it 53-45. Ohio still trailed by nine with 3:29 left and by eight with 2:11 to go but made a game of it in the next minute.
Offutt scored a layup through contact with 1:54 remaining but failed to capitalize on a three-point play opportunity. Then, a Kent State turnover led to a Kellogg 3-pointer that made it a 59-56 game with 1:47 to go.
A touch foul on the perimeter by Kellogg led to Holt making two free throws at the 1:18 mark, and after Cooper missed a shot from beyond the arc, Chris Evans and Greene split free throw tries. Smith made two tries for Ohio but that was as close as it got.
Kent State held on behind 20 points from Randal Holt and 16 points and nine rebounds by Justin Greene. Both players came off the bench and combined to go 20 of 24 from the free-throw line. The duo provided 36 of Kent's 41 bench points in the game.
The Golden Flashes turned the ball over 14 times in the second half. They also made just 31.3 percent of their shots from the floor after halftime but 15 of 18 from the free-throw line
Ohio is now one game back of Buffalo for the double-bye in the 2012 MAC Tournament. The 'Cats hole the tie-breaker over the Golden Flashes for the No. 3 spot and remain just a game ahead of Bowling Green and Eastern Michigan for an important top-four finish that would ensure a bye to the tournament quarterfinals.
The Bobcats travel to Miami for their regular season finale at 7 p.m. Friday. Ohio could still finish as high as the No. 2 seed, which would get them a bye to the tournament semifinals, or as low as the No. 5 seed, meaning they would have to win five games to capture the tournament title.