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Ohio season ends with MAC first-round loss to Miami

Bobcats unable to recover from bad 1st half

OXFORD – Miami used a strong defensive first half to build a lead to carry it to a 68-55 victory against Ohio, snapping its seven-game losing streak to the Bobcats with a win in the first round of the Mid-American Conference Tournament.

The No. 10 seed Bobcats (14-17) scored only 18 points in the first half, shooting just 24.2 percent and falling behind by 15 points at the break. They only got as close as six in the second half.

Seeded seventh, Miami (16-16) advances to the MAC Tournament quarterfinals to take on No. 2 Toledo.

In his final game for Ohio, Mike Laster scored 16 points. Doug Taylor had 13 points, James Gollon finished with 12 points, and Teyvion Kirk scored 11 points.

Darrian Ringo led Miami with 21 points, while Nike Sibande had 13 points and nine rebounds, and Logan McLane scored 10 points off the bench, including six straight after Ohio had gotten close in the second half.

Ohio jumped out to a 5-0 lead but it was all Miami the rest of the half, beginning with a 19-2 run that put the RedHawks up 19-7 midway through the first half. The Bobcats were held to only one field goal over a span of nearly 11 minutes before a Gollon steal and dunk made it 19-10 at the 7:53 mark.

After the Bobcats got to within 24-16, the RedHawks knocked down three straight 3-pointers, including back-to-back shots by Ringo to make it 33-16 for the largest lead of the game just before halftime.

Gollon’s 3-pointer with 13:18 remaining cut the deficit back to single digits, and a Kirk layup made it 46-39. The Bobcats got as close as 48-42 on a Laster 3-pointer at the 11:15 mark and then cut it back to six on a Taylor layup with 8:48 to go.

McLane then scored three straight baskets, and Ohio only got as close as eight after that at 58-50 with 2:37 remaining.

Starting guard Jordan Dartis aggravated an injury late in the first half and did not return, and Kirk picked up his third foul with 12:19 remaining and then his fourth on a technical that followed, leaving an already beat-up Bobcats team even more short-handed.

"The one takeaway I'll take is that we're a tough minded and physical group," Ohio coach Saul Phillips said. "For the guys who return, that's something to build on. We ended up having to make a lot of reactionary moves this season because of roster limitations, and that's no way to live. First order of business is to get everybody healthy."

Leading returning scorer Jason Carter missed all but three games this year and will redshirt. Freshman Ben Vander Plas sat out the season with an injury, and fellow freshman A.J. Gareri played 10 games after sitting out the early part of the season and then was reinjured. Injuries also caused Kevin Mickle to miss three games, Dartis to sit out two games and Laster to miss one.

It was the final game for Laster and Mickle, as well as walk-ons Antonio Bisutti and Sam Frayer.

"It wasn't the outcome that we wanted, but I'm just thankful that we all made it as close to one piece as possible through the season with our injuries," Laster said. "I would compare it to playing cards and you just being dealt a bad hand. And, really, just doing what you can and almost winning, actually. And actually not doing as bad as you thought you would once we got our hand. We just played our cards."

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