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Bobcats knock Falcons out of 1st, snap losing streak

Ohio gets 92-87 overtime win against Bowling Green

ATHENS – Ohio snapped its six-game losing streak and knocked Bowling Green out of first place in the Mid-American Conference with a 92-87 victory Friday night at The Convo.

Teyvion Kirk’s layup with a few seconds remaining forced overtime and his layup with 2:16 left in the extra session put the Bobcats up for good.

Jason Carter led Ohio (12-14, 4-10 Mid-American Conference) with 23 points and eight rebounds, while Kirk scored 17 points. Ben Vander Plas had 11 pounds and even rebounds, and Antonio Cowart Jr. connected on 3 of 5 shots from beyond the arc and scored 10 points despite foul trouble.

"We played like a team that wasn't hungry for a win, but starving for a win," Ohio 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.”

Demajeo Wiggins had 20 points and 14 rebounds for the Falcons, who fell out of a first-place tie with Buffalo. Dylan Frye had 18 points, Justin Turner scored 15 points, Antwon Lillard had 14 points, and Caleb Fields finished with 10 points.

Lillard connected on a 3-pointer with 1:57 remaining in regulation to give Bowling Green (19-8, 11-3 MAC) a 79-74 lead, but Ohio rallied, beginning with a pair of Gavin Block free throws. After a Falcons miss, Kirk connected on a jumper to bet the Bobcats within one with 1:07 remaining.

An illegal screen on Bowling Green gave Ohio a chance to take the lead but Jason Preston missed, and Block fouled Lillard. He connected on the second of two free throws. Block made one of three at the line with 13 seconds left, and Wiggins made one of two a second later, setting up Kirk’s game-tying drive and layup.

Preston hit a jumper that tied the game at 86 with less than three minutes to go in overtime, and Kirk followed on the next possession with a go-ahead basket. Lillard missed the second of two free throws with 21 seconds left, leaving Ohio ahead a point. Vander Plas made two from the foul line, and Lillard missed a 3-point try before Carter clinched the win with two more foul shots in the final three seconds.

“TK making some plays in the open court late in the game when we needed a quick bucket was big,” Phillips said. “Jason makes a big shot and Gavin makes a big 3. 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.”

Bowling Green jumped out to a 13-4 lead in the first five minutes and pushed its lead to 27-16 at the 8:17 mark before Ohio’s offense came to life, beginning with a Doug Taylor layup. The Bobcats finally tied the game at 40 a minute before halftime on a Block 3-pointer.

Cowart hit 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions early in the second half to put Ohio up 48-44. Bowling Green answered back and took a 57-51 lead on a Wiggins dunk at the 12:12 mark. The Bobcats tied the game with a 7-1 run.

Free throws again almost were the undoing of Ohio, which went just 19 of 32 (59.4 percent) at the foul line, but it overcame it with 56.1 percent shooting from the field, including a 9-of-18 performance from beyond the arc.

Bowling Green was 20 of 29 (69.0 percent) but shot significantly worse from the field than Ohio, going 30 of 73 (41.1 percent) with a 7-of-27 (25.9 percent) 3-point clip included. The Falcons got 16 extra field goal attempts via 15 offensive rebounds to just seven for the Bobcats and nine turnovers to 16 for Ohio.

Taylor had 8 points and seven rebounds in 20 minutes, fouling out late in regulation. Preston played 43 of 45 minutes, finishing with 9 points, seven assists, six rebounds and no turnovers.

"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 takes on Kent State at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the MAC Center.

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