Jordan Dartis held the ball a few feet inside half court with the shot clock winding down. He looked toward the net, faked a step forward and paused.
By that point, with seven minutes left in a game far out of reach, young fans in The Convo's upper bowl were yelling “Shoot it!” at Dartis every time he touched the ball.
He obliged, knocking down another 3-pointer in a career night that helped Ohio topple Akron in a much-needed 99-75 win Tuesday.
“That’s just unconscious shooting, man,” Dartis said, who finished with a career-high 38 points. “Especially when you’re hot like that and get in a rhythm, it’s just, why not shoot it?”
He hit 10 threes — which ties for third most in a single game in Ohio history — to jump-start a desperate Ohio team that had lost four in a row and seven of eight.
Dartis deserved a game like that. And the Bobcats deserved it from him, too.
Most of the season hasn’t come easy for the injury-stricken Dartis, or Ohio (10-13, 3-8 Mid-American Conference) for that matter.
In preseason, Dartis lunged forward on defense and crumpled to the court. His resulting hip injury has required treatment — ice baths, deep tissue massages, etc. — on a regular basis ever since. He’s been in and out of practice all year and missed a pair of games as a result.
While he worked to get healthy, the Bobcats entered a tailspin in conference play. They’re last in the MAC, searching for any kind of traction during a season in which Dartis has been just one of a series of players with prolonged injuries.
He had a setback last week at Bowling Green, reinjuring his hip when he fell awkwardly on a hard drive to the basket. He needed teammates to help him off the court and crutches to help him to the bus.
Dartis missed Saturday’s game, just his second absence of the year, then returned to practice in full on Monday — his first full practice since Christmas.
“We ran 30 possessions in practice yesterday and he hit five threes in those possessions," coach Saul Phillips said. "So I knew he was feeling pretty good.”
Dartis looked himself during Tuesday’s game, scoring nearly at will against the Zips. He had four more 3-pointers than Akron on 11 fewer attempts.
"He was absolutely ridiculously on fire,” Phillips said.
Dartis is already established as a sharpshooter, after finishing 11th in NCAA Division I last season in 3-point shooting (44.1 percent). He is confident in his craft in spite of his injury.
“I try not to think much about my hip,” Dartis said. “And every game, it doesn’t matter if I’m shooting 0-for-10; I’m still gonna be as confident for my next shot.”
During a 19-6 run in the middle of the first half, led by Dartis, the Bobcats built a double-digit lead that continued climbing the rest of the way.
He needed only two and a half minutes in that stretch to connect on four straight threes — two of which came from more than a foot beyond the arc.
A split-second of concern came after Dartis’ fourth one, when he stood near midcourt and flashed a wide grin at the Ohio student section. Teammate Gavin Block, hopped up on adrenaline, gave Dartis a playful push that sent him tumbling to the floor. No one on the Bobcats likes seeing Dartis in that position.
“I was just excited for him,” Block said. “But I was nervous at first and then I saw he was smiling, so I was like, ‘All right, I’m off the hook.’”
Just another smile from Dartis on a night in which everything clicked.
“I didn’t feel it,” Dartis said of the push. “When the adrenaline kicks in like that, you don’t feel little things like that. You’re just living in the moment.”