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Ohio Suffers 72-59 Semifinal Loss to Kent State

March 10, 2006

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CLEVELAND - Despite getting 21 points from senior guard Mychal Green, the Ohio men's basketball team lost 72-59 to Kent State in the Mid-American Conference Tournament semifinals Friday night at Quicken Loans Arena.

After making at least half their shots in each of their past three games - all wins - the Bobcats (19-11) managed only 37 percent (17-of-46) against the Golden Flashes. Ohio had been hot from three-point range as well but made only six of 20 (30 percent) from long distance on Friday.

Kent State (24-8) didn't shoot much better - 39 percent (23-of-59) from the field and 35 percent (6-of-17) from behind the arc - but only turned the ball over eight times compared to 19 Bobcat miscues. As a result, the Flashes held a 20-3 advantage in points off turnovers.

In addition to 21 points, Green (Columbus, Ohio) recorded five rebounds and one assist to pace Ohio. Sophomore point guard Antonio Chatman (Dorchester, Mass.) registered 13 points to go along with six assists while sophomore center Leon Williams (Baltimore, Md.) provided 11 points and nine boards.

Jay Youngblood and Mike Scott led Kent State with 15 points apiece while Kevin Warzynski came off the bench to score 14. DeAndre Haynes, the MAC Player of the Year, was limited by foul trouble in the second half and ended up with 10 points.

A Johnnie Jackson (Memphis, Tenn.) three-pointer gave the Bobcats an early 10-6 lead but the Flashed rallied to take their first lead at 13-11 on a Warzynski layup with 12:10 left in the opening period.

After trading baskets, Ohio went on a 5-0 run to take an 18-15 advantage with 8:33 on the clock. Kent State answered with a 9-0 run and never led by less than four points for the rest of the game. After being up by as much as nine points in the first half, the Flashes took a 33-26 edge into the locker room.

Following an Armon Gates three-pointer to begin the second-half, the Bobcats scored five straight points on a dunk by Williams and a trey by senior guard Jeff Halbert (White Bear Lake, Minn.) that pulled them within five, 36-31, with 18:36 to play.

A three-pointer by Haynes and a jumper by Scott negated that rally but Ohio got another chance at the 12:10 mark when Kent State's Nate Gerwig was called for his third foul and then received a technical foul as well. Chatman made one of two free throws for the Bobcats before Green sank both his attempts to close the gap to seven points, 47-40.

With Haynes and Gerwig both on the bench with four fouls, however, the Flashes scored 13 unanswered points to extend their lead to 20 with nine minutes remaining. Ohio managed to whittle the gap down to 11 in the final minutes but could not overcome turnovers and missed opportunities down the stretch.

Kent State will advance to play the winner of the Toledo-Akron semifinal in Saturday's championship game. The Bobcats, meanwhile, will wait to see how the at-large bids to the NCAA and NIT postseason tournaments play out.

Ohio received an automatic bid to last year's NCAA Tournament after claiming the MAC Tournament crown but have not appeared in the postseason NIT since a 66-62 opening-round loss to Iowa in 1995.

The NIT, which for the first time will be selected by an at-large committee, will be comprised of a 40-team field from across the country. The bracket will be released live simultaneously on ESPNU, ESPNNews, NIT.org and NCAAsports.com at approximately 9 p.m. on Sunday, March 12.

If the Bobcats are not selected for either tournament, Green and Halbert will finish their careers as two of the top three-point shooters in Ohio history. In school career records, Green stands third in three-point field goal percentage (.395) and eighth in three-pointers made (139) while Halbert is fifth in percentage (.392) and sixth in three-pointers made (163).