March 7, 2010
MUNCIE, Ind. - Armon Bassett scored a game-high 25 points to lead four Bobcats in double figures as Ohio men's basketball advanced to the Mid-American Conference Tournament Quarterfinals with an 85-77 win over Ball State Sunday in Worthen Arena. Ohio, the No. 9 seed, will take on top-seeded Kent State Thursday at 7 p.m. in Quicken Loans Arena.
Heading into the game, Ohio was just 1-6 all-time against the Cardinals in the MAC Tournament. However, that lone win had come in 1994, a year the Bobcats went on to win the MAC Tournament. The Bobcats were the only road team to win in the first round and were able to improve as the game went on while wearing down the BSU attack.
Bassett (Terre Haute, Ind.) led all scorers with 25 points, while DeVaughn Washington (Virginia Beach, Va.) and Muncie native Tommy Freeman each added 15, with Washington posting seven boards and Freeman going 5-for-5 from behind the arc. Freshman D.J. Cooper (Chicago, Ill.) once again neared a triple-double with 12 points, nine rebounds and eight assists. Despite some late second-half misses, the `Cats were exceptional at the line going 27-34 overall and 7-8 in overtime.
Tied 71-71 in overtime, Washington wriggled free for a layup that gave the Green & White their first lead since the first minute of the contest. The Cardinals cut the lead to one on two separate trips, the last time with 1:45 in the extra frame after a Davis trifecta. Despite the pressure Ohio received five points from Kenneth van Kempen (Weert, The Netherlands), a pivotal corner three from Freeman out of a timeout and big-time free throws down the stretch from Bassett and Cooper to salt the game away.
Ohio trailed by 10 with 10:29 to go but slowly trimmed away at the lead and had it down to one possession on four separate occasions. Still down two with 1:44 remaining, Cooper drove to the bucket for a layup that evened the score, 67-67. Trailing by two once again, Bassett got to the tin and tied it again on a layup with 54 seconds on the clock. After being fouled on the play, the junior could not convert at the line.
After getting a stop, Davis committed a silly foul on Cooper in the backcourt with the game tied and 16 seconds left. However, the freshman was short on both attempts and BSU still had a chance for the win after calling timeout with 11 seconds to go. Once again, the Ohio defense was strong when it mattered and got the stop that sent the game into overtime.
Ohio struggled to get in a rhythm during the first half as Cooper picked up three personal fouls and the Cardinals shot 56.5 percent from the field. Ball State took their largest lead of the first half with 8:08 remaining at 22-13 after a layup by Randy Davis. The BSU guard finished with a team-high 21 points, hitting four three-pointers and dishing out five assists. Ohio fought back and cut the deficit to three by the intermission after a Bassett layup with three seconds left.
At the break, the Cardinals were paced by Davis' 13 points, while Washington led the Bobcats with 10 points on 3-of-4 shooting and was 4-4 from the line. Asown Sayles (McKeesport, Pa.) also played an integral part in the first half as he kept the `Cats in it with seven points and four rebounds. Another unsung player was David McKinley (Dublin, Ohio) who stepped in after Bassett picked up his second personal and manned the point for the last three minutes of the half.
The Bobcats now head to Cleveland for a quarterfinal showdown with Kent State. It will be the third meeting between the teams this season. Tip-off for this MAC Tournament showdown will be at 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 11 at Quicken Loans Arena.