Box Score (PDF)
AKRON, Ohio -- Junior guard/forward Gavin Block (Lincoln, Ill.) tied his career high by sinking six three-pointers to finish with a game-high 18 points, but the Ohio men's basketball team (9-10, 2-5 MAC) was unable to overcome several critical late-game miscues in a 71-68 setback to Mid-American Conference East Division rival Akron (10-9, 3-4 MAC) on Tuesday (Jan. 23) at James A. Rhodes Arena.
The Zips led by as many as 14 in the first half and took a 36-29 lead into halftime thanks in large to part hitting six treys in the opening 20 minutes of play.
The Bobcats opened the second half on a 12-6 run over the first five-plus minutes, with a jumper by freshman guard Teyvion Kirk (Joliet, Ill.) cutting Akron's lead down to one at 42-41. The Zips increased their lead back to seven points on a triple by sophomore guard Daniel Utomi with just over 11 minutes to play, but Block drained a pair of threes in a span of less than two minutes to even the score at 52-all with 8:47 remaining.
Freshman forward Mark Kostelac provided the Zips with four points off a layup and a dunk over the ensuing minute to put Akron up by three, but Block once again delivered a dagger from beyond the arc to knot things up at 56-all with 7:33 to go. Akron responded with an 11-2 run over the next four minutes to take a nine-point lead at 67-58. The Bobcats missed four three-point attempts during the Zips' charge while Akron junior guard Jimond Ivery scored nine of his team's points during the stretch.
Ohio was not going to go away easily, though. Junior forward Doug Taylor got the Bobcats' rally started by drawing a foul with 2:57 left and hitting a pair of free throws. From there, Ohio went on an 8-0 run over the next 1:26, with senior guard Mike Laster (Detroit, Mich.) hitting a jumper, junior guard Jordan Dartis (Newark, Ohio) making a pair of free throws and Laster making a layup with 1:31 left to make it a one-point game at 67-66.
Unfortunately for the Bobcats, they were not able to take advantage of the opportunity, with Block missing a three with 32 seconds left after Akron freshman guard Eric Parrish turned the ball over. Ohio was then forced to foul Ivey, who made a pair of free throws to increase Akron's lead to three at 69-66 with 20 seconds to go. The Bobcats did not get the shot they wanted on their next possession, and freshman guard Virshon Cotton came up with a big rebound for Akron off a missed layup by Block. Cotton was then fouled and sank both free throws to seal the win for the Zips.
"We had some silly mishaps at times on the offensive end," said fourth-year head coach Saul Phillips. "At times, very good, but, again, in crunch time where you needed to generate it we weren't able to do it. We certainly our lightyears better at moving the ball than we were awhile ago, and I think if you look at it again, 16 assists on 23 field goals, we're getting closer to that. The other aspect of the game that got away from us a little bit was 50-50 type balls where they'd get a deflection and we'd be on the floor, they'd get it and score out of it. That happened on more than one occasion. I don't think our guys weren't playing hard; I'm not saying that. But, we just didn't get to enough 50-50 balls. If we could have, we probably would've gotten more stops."
In addition to being the game's leading scorer, Block hauled in a team-high seven rebounds and also added two assists in 38 minutes. He finished in double figures in points for the seventh time this season. Kirk finished 5-of-10 from the field and 5-of-6 from the free throw line to log 16 points, marking the team-high 17th time this year he has finished in double digits. He also distributed a game-high six assists, collected two steals and grabbed a rebound over 29 minutes of work. Taylor totaled 11 points off of 3-of-4 shooting from the floor and 5-of-6 shooting from the line. He also grabbed six boards and blocked a game-high four shots in 32 minutes. Taylor has blocked at least three shots in a game seven times this season -- including each of the last three contests.
"We kept fighting but we just couldn't execute," said Block of the loss. "Down the stretch, you've got to come together as a team and grind it out and make a lot of winning plays."
Ivey went 6-of-15 from the floor with a pair of triples and converted three of his four free throw attempts to lead Akron with 17 points. He also added a team-high four assists, six rebounds and a steal in 30 minutes. Graduate guard Malcolm Duvivier recorded 16 points thanks in large pair to four three-pointers. He did the bulk of his damage in the first half, scoring 13 points. Duvivier also chipped in three assists and two steals in 32 minutes before fouling out. Utomi shot 5-of-10 from the floor with three triples to notch 13 points. He also pulled in a game-high eight rebounds to go along with three assists over 39 minutes. Kostelac gave the Zips 10 points, four rebounds and a steal in 24 minutes of work off of the bench.
Ohio plays host to a nationally televised contest against MAC East Division rival Buffalo (15-5, 7-0 MAC) on Friday (Jan. 26) at the Convocation Center. The game is set to tip-off at 6:30 p.m. ET and will be featured on CBS Sports Network.