OXFORD — Mike Laster had to lean his head back and think back to remember the night, the only night, he’s lost to Miami. Deep in thought, it took him a few seconds to go back to that game.
It’s hard to blame him, considering that loss came on Feb. 14, 2015.
Ohio added to the total was Friday night, at Millett Hall, completing the regular season sweep over Miami in a 75-66 win.
Still, Laster wasn’t keeping track of the streak over the Bobcats rivals. He didn’t even know the class below him never lost to Miami.
“That’s real good,” he said. “Hopefully they can leave without losing to them.”
Ohio has had an era of dominance over Miami in coach Saul Phillips’ tenure the last four years. The Bobcats lost that first matchup in mid-February and have won all of the games since.
“It’s a game that means a lot to a lot of peopole that are important to this program,” Phillips said. “Besides, it’s more fun on the golf course in the summer when you sweep Miami.”
Laster, in potentially his final matchup against the RedHawks, scored 22 points to lead Ohio in points. Jordan Dartis trailed him with 21.
Despite 17 turnovers, the Bobcats were able to overcome the mistakes by outscoring the RedHawks by 12 points in the second half. Ohio shot 50 percent from a 3-point range in the second half, too.
The rivalry hasn’t loss its luster despite the one-sidedness, however. That was evident when Miami coach Jack Owens was given a technical foul as the game wound down. It was also clear in the crowd, of which there were many displeased RedHawks fans.
The chants were the usual ones. The signs said “O-U, Oh No,” and were of that ilk throughout. But recently, there’s only been that much anger on one side.
“This means a lot to the people back home in Athens,” Dartis said. “Just beating Miami, it’s just a good feeling, man. Like I said earlier in the press conference when we first played them, I said, ‘we own the rivalry.’ And I’m gonna leave it at that.”
There was extra emphasis placed on Friday’s game, too, because the two teams could find themselves in the same situation just 72 hours after the regular season finale tipped off.
Should Central Michigan beat Western Michigan on Saturday morning, the Bobcats will head to Oxford once more for a third chance at their rivals.
“They definitely are gonna come out on Monday, if we do play them, come out harder and try to play,” Laster said. “They like to gamble in passing lanes alot and we didn’t take advantage of that as much as we should. I feel like it’ll be much different next time.”
Whether or not that’s the matchup given to the Bobcats, they can still rest on the fact that the rivalry hasn’t been much of one for the last three years. Sure, the passion is still there. But recently, the competition for Ohio just hasn’t.
“It could get heated if it’s just Miami,” Dartis said. “Definitely some fans would want to see that for sure. But if it doesn’t happen, it is what it is.”