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Ohio's rally in final minutes falls short against Clemson

Block scores 19 of his 22 points in 2nd half

CHARLESTON, S.C. – Despite being short-handed in the post, Ohio hung tough but came up short, 81-76, against Clemson on Thursday evening in the first round of the Charleston Classic at TD Arena.

After trailing by as many as 16 points, the Bobcats got as close as four down the stretch, but the Tigers were able to close it out to advance to the second round to take on Hofstra, which knocked off Dayton, 72-69. Ohio (1-1) will play the Fliers.

Playing without top returning forward Jason Carter, out with a lower leg injury, as well as two injured freshman forwards, Ohio – led by Gavin Block – shot well enough down the stretch to get back in the game. Block scored 19 of his 22 points after the break and finished 6 of 12 on 3-pointers with a team-high 10 rebounds.

Guards Jordan Dartis and Mike Laster had 18 and 13 points, respectively, for Ohio, and freshman point guard Teyvion Kirk finished with 10 points and six assists. Forward Kevin Mickle had 10 points off the bench, but both he and the Bobcats’ only other true inside player, Doug Taylor, fouled out.

Clemson 6-9 forward Elijah Thomas finished with a career-high 17 points to go along with 15 rebounds, while 6-8 forward Donte Grantham added 20 points, though many of his came from the perimeter and at the foul line.

The Tigers (3-0) led just 42-38 at halftime but began the second half on an 11-3 run and went up 53-41 on a Grantham put-back layup. The lead reached 16 points at 63-47 on a Marquise Reed 3-pointer with 7:38 remaining.

Block came alive down the stretch. He hit 3-poitners that cut Ohio’s deficit to 65-53 and then later 67-58, and then after a pair of Dartis free throws, Block struck again to make it 69-63 with 4:15 to go.

After Clemson pushed the lead up to 76-67 with 1:30 left, Block scored following an offensive rebound and he connected on yet another from beyond the arc with 37 seconds remaining, making it 76-72. He also answered two Grantham free throws with a contested layup with 15 seconds left, but that was as close as the Bobcats got.

The first half was relatively close throughout, but a 6-0 run gave the Tigers a 37-30 lead at the 3:47 mark. The Bobcats cut their deficit to one, 39-38, on a Laster 3-pointer, but Clemson answered with a 3 of its down from Shelton Mitchell to take a four-point advantage.

Ohio shot 56.5 percent in the first half to make up for 11 turnovers. It did not commit a turnover in the second half but shot only 39.5 percent.

Mitchell had 16 points, five assists and four steals, and Reed had 12 points and five rebounds for the Tigers.

Taylor struggled for Ohio with no points and one rebound, as did backup freshman point guard Zach Butler, who had no points, no assists and two turnovers.

The Bobcats play at 7 p.m. Friday on ESPNews.

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