Box Score (PDF)
CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Junior guard/forward Gavin Block (Lincoln, Ill.) scored a career-high 22 points to lead all scorers and achieved his first career double-double with a career-high 10 rebounds to lead the team, but the Ohio men's basketball team (1-1) couldn't quite rally back from a 16-point second-half deficit, falling to Clemson (3-0), 81-76, on Thursday (Nov. 16) in the 2017 Gildan Charleston Classic opener at TD Arena.
"I feel like that's just the type of team we are," said Block of Ohio's comeback effort. "We're never going to give up on any given moment or given day. We're going to fight until the last buzzer. That's just in our blood."
The Bobcats were unable to overcome 11 first-half turnovers that the Tigers turned into 13 points and an early second-half scoring drought. Clemson's starting five combined to attempt 28 free throws, with 23 of those turning into points.
Block made a career-high eight field goals -- including a career-high six from beyond the arc. He also logged an assist and a steal in 34 minutes of work. Block became the first Bobcat to make at least six three-pointers in a game since former forward Kenny Kaminski sank seven in a 96-72 win at Bowling Green on Jan. 28, 2017. Junior guard Jordan Dartis (Newark, Ohio) tallied 18 points off of four made field goals -- including a pair of triples -- in addition to making all eight of his attempts from the free throw line. He also chipped in four assists, four rebounds and a steal over 33 minutes. Senior guard Mike Laster (Detroit, Mich.) finished with 13 points, two rebounds and two assists in 35 minutes. Freshman guard Teyvion Kirk (Joliet, Ill.) notched 10 points, a game-high six assists, four rebounds and a steal in 28 minutes. Graduate forward Kevin Mickle (Brooklyn, N.Y.) went 4-of-7 from the field en route to a 10-point performance off the bench. He also compiled three rebounds, an assist and a block in 24 minutes before fouling out.
Coming out of the break with a four-point lead, Clemson forced Ohio to call timeout with just over 16 minutes left after opening the second half with an 11-3 run that gave the Tigers a 53-41 advantage. A triple by senior guard Gabe DeVoe and a dunk by junior forward Elijah Thomas highlighted the stretch for Clemson.
Clemson's lead swelled to a game-high 16 points with 7:38 to play as the Tigers took advantage of five made free throws -- including three by Thomas -- and a three by redshirt junior guard Marcquise Reed. The Bobcats managed to score just nine points over the first 13 minutes of the second half.
Ohio battled back, though, with Block's hot hand being the catalyst. His trey with just under seven minutes remaining sparked a 22-11 run that pulled the Bobcats within four at 76-72 with 37 seconds to go. Block scored 16 of those points, making four threes.
That's as close as Ohio got, though, as Clemson sealed a five-point victory thanks to a pair of free throws by senior forward Donte Grantham and redshirt junior guard Shelton Mitchell and another by Reed.
"We determine if it helps us or not," said fourth-year head coach Saul Phillips of his team's performance, which saw the Bobcats commit zero turnovers in the final 20 minutes of play. "What lessons do we learn? What can it help us? It's not like we did anything whacky to get back in the game. We just kept playing. How can it help us? We hadn't seen that type of pressure in a long time and turned it over 11 times in the first half and zero in the second. Literally, you're seeing improvement within the game. That's a big area for us this year, and it's something that we've got to make sure continues."
Ohio trailed Clemson by just four at halftime, with the Tigers taking a 42-38 edge into the break. Dartis led the way for the Bobcats, shooting 4-of-5 from the field with a pair of triples and sinking all six of his free throw attempts to score a game-high 16 points in the opening 20 minutes of play. A jumper by Dartis with just under six minutes left cut Clemson's lead down to one at 31-30, but the Tigers took a seven-point lead with just over four minutes to go thanks in large part to a triple by Grantham at the 4:26 mark. The Bobcats clawed back, though, trimming the Tigers' edge back down to one with 1:24 remaining thanks to an and-one jumper by Dartis and a triple by Laster. Mitchell hit a three for Clemson with just over a minute to go, but Ohio held the Tigers scoreless in the final minute.
Grantham led the way for Clemson with a 20-point performance that saw him go 6-of-9 from the field and make all six of his free throws. He also grabbed two boards in 29 minutes. Thomas achieved a double-double with 17 points and a game-high 15 rebounds. He also tallied three assists, a block and a steal over 32 minutes. Mitchell went 4-of-8 from the floor and 7-of-8 from the charity stripe to log 16 points in addition to dishing out a team-high five assists, logging a game-high four steals and grabbing a rebound in 36 minutes. Reed finished with 12 points, five rebounds and three assists in 33 minutes. DeVoe recorded nine points, three rebounds, two assists and a steal over 27 minutes of work.
Ohio will play in-state rival Dayton on Friday (Nov. 17) at 7 p.m. ET in its second game of the 2017 Gildan Charleston Classic. The contest will be nationally televised on ESPNews. The Bobcats are 21-13 all-time against Dayton, but the programs have not faced off since March 9, 1965 -- a 66-65 victory for the Flyers in the NCAA Mideast Regional.