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Carter's putback gives Ohio 68-66 win over FIU

Bobcats scored final five points after giving up 12-point lead

ATHENS – Jason Carter put back a Teyvion Kirk air ball with 2.3 seconds left to lift Ohio past Florida International 68-66 on Sunday at The Convo.

Kirk’s step-back jumper from the top of the key was short and wide left of the rim. It was deflected to the right side of the basket to Carter, who put it up and in. After two times, FIU then fired a long air ball 3-pointer at the buzzer.

"I crashed and I saw that Doug had his guy pinned," Carter said. "I knew one of us was going to get a hand on it. Doug ended up getting a hand on it and it bounced back to where I was and I just grabbed it and went up with it. That happens more often than not, but it just happened to work on the last play of this game."

Carter finished with a game-high 19 points and added nine rebounds, while Kirk scored 18 points and also grabbed nine rebounds. Doug Taylor had a double-double of 12 points and 10 boards, while Jason Preston scored 11 points.

The Panthers (9-4) took their first lead with 8:19 remaining and went up 66-63 on a Osasumwen Osaghae putback with 3:06 remaining. Kirk answered two possessions later with a bucket to make it a one-point game, and after the teams traded turnovers, Brian Beard Jr. missed an open 3-pointer.

That led to a Carter free throw tying the game at 66 with 1:06 left. Beard missed twice on the next possession, giving Ohio a chance to hold for the last shot.

The Bobcats jumped out to a 16-9 lead in the first eight minutes, and after the Panthers cut their deficit to one, Ohio went on a 10-0 run to take a 36-25 lead late in the first half.

After leading by seven at halftime, the Bobcats went back up by 11, 41-32, with the first two baskets of the second half. Their biggest lead was 48-36 with 16:27 remaining on a Carter free throw. Ohio led 53-43 on a Preston free throw at the 12:14 mark before an FIU 11-0 run put it up by one with 8:19 to go. Neither team led by more than three after that.

Beard led a balanced FIU offense with 13 points. Devon Andrews scored 11 points, Marcus Burwell had 9 points, and Willy Nunez Jr. and Michael Douglas scored 7 points each. Osaghae had 7 points and a game-high 13 rebounds, including all six of his team’s offensive boards.

The Bobcats outshot the Panthers, 50.9 percent to 41.5 percent, but FIU had far more opportunities thanks to a 23-15 turnover disparity. Kirk had six of those turnovers with just two assists and was 8 of 22 shooting. Ohio got high percentage shots from Carter (8 of 11), Taylor (6 of 6) and Preston (4 of 5).

"We certainly could have made things easier on ourselves by taking better care of the ball, but our defensive intensity was good all night long," Ohio coach Saul Phillips said. "We did a good job particularly on Beard. We needed to get stops and we needed to get scores and we got them. It's kind of fitting that this group would get the go ahead shot on an offensive rebound because that's kind of our identity. It's a good win in the stand point that it's a win, but like any win there's plenty to work on."

Ohio begins Mid-American Conference play against Northern Illinois at 2 p.m. Saturday at The Convo.

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