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Ohio rallies past Miami, earns MAC tournament home game

Bobcats come back from 10 down with 3 minutes to go

OXFORD – Ohio rallied from 10 points down with three minutes remaining to beat Miami 67-65 and secure a first-round Mid-American Conference tournament home game Friday night at Millet Hall.

The RedHawks led 63-53 on Isaiah Coleman-Lands’ 3-pointer with 3:47 to go, but the Bobcats (16-15, 8-10 MAC) outscored them 14-2 the rest of the way, going ahead on Miles’ Browns put-back of a missed Jason Preston 3-pointer with 14 seconds left. Bam Bowman missed a contested 3-pointer at the buzzer for Miami (12-19, 5-13 MAC).

Preston led the way with 24 points, seven assists and five rebounds for Ohio. Lunden McDay added 16 points and nine rebounds, and Ben Roderick finished with 11 for the Bobcats, who played without Ben Vander Plas. He was in a walking boot, just like Jordan Dartis was a game ago, though Dartis returned to the lineup Friday.

Bowman paced Miami with 17 points, Dae Dae Grant had 13 points, and Coleman-Lands finished with 11 points off the bench.

"I think it just shows the resolve and grit and determination of our guys," Ohio coach Jeff Boals said. "… Give our guys credit. They made plays when they needed to. Earlier in the year, we lose that game.”

A Roderick 3-pointer with 2:53 remaining began Ohio’s late comeback. A Brown steal led to a Preston layup to make it 63-58, and after a Roderick steal, Preston scored, was fouled, rebounded his own miss and buried a 3-pointer to tie the game at 63 with a 10-0 run that took less than a minute.

Brown came up with a steal and made two free throws to put the Bobcats up, but Bowman tied the game with a jumper with about a minute remaining. Roderick, McDay and Preston missed shots on the ensuing possession before the go-ahead basket by Brown on the third offensive rebound of the series.

Down 20-18, the Bobcats closed out the first half on an 11-2 run to take a 29-22 lead. Miami used a 13-1 run in the middle of the second half to go up 49-41 with 8:02 to go. The RedHawks held their biggest lead of 59-47 on a Mekhi Lairy three-point play with 4:34 remaining.

“I think in the second half of MAC play we're 6-3 and could easily be 8-1,” Boals said. “They're playing with a lot a belief and confidence. To do that without Ben Vander Plas and a non-100 percent Jordan Dartis, Hats off to our guys."

Offensive rebounds were a big difference in the game, with Ohio holding an 11-3 advantage. That allowed Ohio to win despite shooting 39.7% from the field, compared to 45.8% by Miami.

As the No. 8 seed in the MAC tournament, Ohio will host No. 9 Central Michigan at a time to be determined on Monday night at The Convo.

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