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Free throws the difference in Cleveland State win over Ohio

Bobcats miss potential tying 3-pointer in final seconds

CLEVELAND – Cleveland State knocked down 25 free throws to top Ohio 82-78 on Saturday evening at Henry J. Goodman Arena.

The Vikings (2-1) shot 80.6% on 31 attempts from the line, whereas the Bobcats (1-1) were 14-of-24 (58.3%) and lost despite shooting 50% from the field and 44.4% from 3-point range on the road.

Ohio led 40-38 at halftime, and the second half was tight until Cleveland State used a 7-0 run to go up 72-65 with 5:55 remaining. A minute later, Jalin Rice hit a pair of free throws to match the game’s biggest advantage, 74-66.

The Bobcats made a push down the stretch and had a chance to tie in the closing seconds, but Shereef Mitchell’s 3-pointer was off the mark, and Chase Robinson clinched it by making the first of two shots at the foul line with one second remaining.

A Mitchell jumper, followed by an Elmore James layup, cut the Bobcats’ deficit to 74-70. Tristan Enaruna connected from long range to put Cleveland State up by seven. An AJ Clayton layup and then an AJ Brown 3-pointer made it a two-point game with 1:08 left.

The Vikings got another big 3-pointer, this time from Drew Lowder, to go back up by five. James split two free throws, and after a steal by Mitchell, he made two free throws with 20 seconds left, making it 80-78. Lowder split two free throws with 15 seconds left, giving Ohio an opportunity to tie on its last possession.

Ohio started strong, going up 16-8 less than five minutes into it on a Hunter jumper. Down 18-10, Cleveland State scored nine points in a row, going ahead 19-18 on a Lowder 3-pointer. From the on, neither team led by more than four until the Vikings’ late run.

All five Ohio starters scored in double figures, led by Mitchell with 15 points and five rebounds. James had 14 points, and Hunter scored 13 points with seven assists even though he struggled from the field for a second time this year, going 3 of 9, including 1 of 5 from deep. Brown and Clayton added 12 and 11 points, respectively.

Enaruna led all players with 22 points while also adding six rebounds, six assists, two steals and two blocks. Jayson Woodrich scored 14 points, and Tae Williams tallied 13 points.

Cleveland State won even though its shot just 41.7%.

The Bobcats take on another Horizon League opponent in their next game, hosting Detroit Mercy at 2 p.m. next Saturday at The Convo.

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