ATHENS, Ohio – Led by 23 points from Redshirt-sophomore forward Jason Carter, the Ohio men's basketball team (12-14, 4-10 MAC) snapped a six-game losing streak, defeating Mid-American Conference East foe Bowling Green (19-8, 11-3 MAC), 92-87 in overtime, Friday night (Feb. 22), inside the Convocation Center.
"We played like a team that wasn't hungry for a win, but starving for a win," fifth-year head coach Saul Phillips said. "Gutty effort. I thought we overcame some adversity with some tough shots hit by them and some foul trouble. Little bit of everything. The guys in the huddle kept saying that we were going to get this one. TK making some plays in the open court late in the game when we needed a quick bucket was big. Jason makes a big shot and Gavin makes a big three. At the end of regulation and overtime, I thought we had some great defensive possessions. Our guys functioned well late in game, without me having the benefit of calling a timeout and talk them through it. It's a testament to their composure and poise."
Carter (Johnstown, Ohio) compiled a game-high 23 points, going 8-of-12 from the field, and a team-high eight rebounds. Carter added a block and a steal in his 38 minutes of work. Sophomore guard Teyvion Kirk (Joliet, Ill.) compiled 17 points, going 7-of-15 from the field, and added four rebounds and an assist in his 31 minutes of play. Redshirt freshman forward Ben Vander Plas (Ripon, Wis.) added 11 points, seven rebounds and three assists in his 32 minutes of work while junior guard Antonio Cowart, Jr. (McComb, Miss.) added 10 points and two assists in his 25 minutes of work for Ohio. Senior guard/forward Gavin Block (Lincoln, Ill.), and freshman guard Jason Preston (Orlando, Fla.) both added nine points for the Bobcats. Block added four rebounds, two assists and a steal in his 26 minutes of work while Preston added six rebounds, a game-high seven assists and a team-high two steals in his 43 minutes of work. Senior forward Doug Taylor (Columbus, Ohio) added eight points, seven rebounds and a game-high two blocks in his 20 minutes of play for the Bobcats.
"It brought a lot of joy back to the locker room," Carter said. "Losing can steal the joy out of the game and just being around each other sometimes. We've stuck together. When someone is having a down day, we have people to pick them up and we just try to keep that positive attitude, and it feels good to finally get it over with."
Ohio would win the opening tip, but Bowling Green would be first to score. Carter converted one of two free-throw attempts, however Bowling Green answered with a 5-0 run to take an early 7-1 lead. Kirk converted one of two free-throw attempts to end the Falcons run. Ohio and Bowling Green traded baskets until the Falcons strung together a pair of baskets for a 13-4 advantage. Kirk was able to get to the rim for a basket that sparked a 6-0 run for the Bobcats, shrinking the Falcon lead to 13-10 with thirteen minutes remaining in the first half. Ohio and Bowling Green traded baskets once again that kept Bowling Green ahead with just over 11 minutes remaining. Cowart, Jr. registered a three-point basket after the Falcons converted a pair of free throws that shrunk the lead to 19-16. However, Bowling Green answered with an 8-0 run for a 27-16 advantage with just over eight minutes remaining.
Taylor and redshirt sophomore Connor Murrell (Sioux City, Iowa) and Preston combined for six points that cut the lead back to four, down 28-24. Bowling Green registered a basket, but Murrell answered with a three-point basket that shrunk the lead to three, down 30-27, with five minutes remaining in the opening half. Both teams converted a pair of free throw attempts as the four-minute mark approached which kept the Bowling Green lead at three. Bowling Green converted a free throw attempt and a basket, but Vander Plas and Preston answered with a pair of baskets that pulled the Bobcats within two, down 35-33, with three minutes remaining. Bowling Green strung together a pair of baskets that stretched the lead back to seven as the clock hit the two-minute mark. Carter and Vander Plas combined for four points just before Block recorded a three-point basket that tied the game at 40 apiece. Ohio defense held off the Falcons in a last second attempt to score resulting in a tie game to end the first half of play.
Ohio registered a 53.8 percent field goal percentage going 14-of-26 from the field – including 3-of-9 from three-point range, compared to Bowling Green who registered a 39.4 percent field goal percentage going 13-of-33 from the field for the half – including 2-of-9 from three-point range. Ohio registered 21 total rebounds and 22 points in the paint compared to Bowling Green who registered 17 total rebounds and compiled 14 points in the paint. Ohio forced two turnovers and registered a steal compared to the Falcons who forced nine turnovers and registered six steals. However, Ohio was able to register six assists and 14 points off the bench compared to only five assists and seven points off the bench for Bowling Green.
Kirk would score the opening basket of the half to give Ohio its first lead of the game. Bowling Green answered with a basket, but Cowart, Jr. nailed a three-point basket that gave Ohio a 45-42 lead. Cowart, Jr. again answered a Bowling Green basket with another three-pointer that gave Ohio its largest lead of the game through two minutes of second half play. Bowling Green strung together a pair of baskets to regain a 49-48 lead, but Vander Plas answered with a three-point basket that gave the advantage back to Ohio. The Falcons compiled an 8-0 run that resulted in a 57-51 lead, but Ohio put together a run of its own on a three-point basket by Preston and a basket by Taylor that made it a one-point game with just over 11 minutes remaining. After a free-throw conversion for the Falcons, Kirk registered a basket to tie the game once again at 58 apiece. Ohio and Bowling Green traded baskets until Carter and Kirk combined for three points resulting in a 63-60 lead with nine minutes remaining. Bowling Green strung together a pair of baskets to regain a one-point lead, ahead 64-63.
After a scoring drought, Bowling Green went on a 5-1 run for a 69-64 lead as the five-minute mark approached. Carter registered a three-point basket that brought the Bobcats back within two, but the Falcons were able to convert a pair of free-throw attempts that brought the lead back to four. Ohio and Bowling Green traded baskets which kept the Falcons out in front, 79-74, as the clock approached the two-minute mark. Two clutch free-throws by Block followed by a blocked shot by Carter and a layup basket by Kirk cut the Falcon lead to one and forced a Bowling Green timeout with one-minute remaining in the game.
The Bobcat defense forced a foul and gave the Bobcat offense an attempt, but Ohio could not convert and was forced to foul Bowling Green with 22 seconds remaining. Bowling Green converted one of the two free throw attempts for an 80-78 advantage. After an Ohio timeout, Block was fouled on a three-point shot where he converted one of three attempts to pull within one, down 80-79, with 14.5 seconds remaining in the game. Bowling Green converted one of two free throw attempts that gave the Falcons a 81-79 advantage, but Kirk was able to get to the rim to tie the game at 81 apiece. The Falcons had a last second shot attempt but fell short sending the game into overtime.
Bowling Green was first to score in the overtime period, but Kirk was quick to answer tying the game at 83 apiece. Bowling Green and Ohio traded baskets until Preston and Kirk combined for a pair of baskets resulting in an, 88-86, Ohio lead with 21 seconds remaining. An Ohio foul gave Bowling Green a pair of free-throw attempts, but Bowling Green converted only one which kept Ohio ahead, 88-87, and forced the Falcons to foul. Vander Plas converted both free-throw attempts that resulted in a 90-87 lead with 14 seconds remaining. Bowling Green could not convert on the offensive end that forced another foul with three seconds remaining. Carter, with the icing on the cake, converted a pair of free-throws and sealed the 92-87 victory for the Bobcats.
Ohio finished the game with a 56.1 percent (32-57) field goal percentage and 40 total rebounds compared to Bowling Green who finished the game with a 41.1 percent (30-73) field goal percentage and 42 total rebounds. Ohio registered 42 points in the paint and 25 points off the bench compared to 30 points in the paint and 18 points off the bench the Falcons. Ohio forced nine turnovers with five steals, but Bowling Green forced 16 turnovers with nine steals. However, Ohio compiled 17 assists and three blocks compared to Bowling Green who compiled 11 assists and only one block.
Demajeo Wiggins led the Falcons in scoring with a team-high 20 points going 7-of-9 from the field in his double-double performance. Wiggins added a game-high 14 rebounds and added an assist and a steal in his 34 minutes of play. Dylan Frye followed closely behind with 18 points and an assist in his 37 minutes of play. Justin Turner added 15 points, five rebounds and a team-high three assists in his 39 minutes of work while Antwon Lillard added 14 points and five rebounds for the Falcons.
The Bobcats return to action on Tuesday, Feb. 26 when Ohio heads to Kent, Ohio to take on Kent State. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. inside the M.A.C. Center.