DeAndre Kane drove left, faking out Reggie Keely to give himself space for one final shot. As it hit the top of its arc and fell toward the basket with four seconds to play, the outset of both teams’ season hinged on the outcome of the shot.
It fell short, missing the rim and barely grazing the net, ensuring Ohio’s advancement in the Bobcats’ 65-64 win at Marshall Tuesday night in the first round of the Collegeinsider.com Tournament.
“I’m proud of our guys,” coach John Groce said. “…I’m about as proud as I can be for how we dug this one out here tonight.”
Kane’s sloppy final shot summed up the final minutes for both teams. Winning 65-64 with 1:07 remaining, Ohio failed to build the lead after two missed free throws on the front end of 1-and-1 opportunities.
Marshall failed to capitalize on the opportunities, as Kane missed the final shot on top of being called for a charging foul with 22 seconds to play. Senior Tommy Freeman stood in front of the driving Kane, calmly taking the blow to try to extend his senior season.
Freeman and DeVaughn Washington tried fervently to extend their college careers as time wore on. With Ohio down 56-52 with 8:09 left, Freeman made a 3-pointer from the top of the key to bring the score within one. He finished with nine points.
“That 3-pointer out of the timeout was huge,” Groce said. “I thought Tommy really brought us back with that.”
Against a Marshall team known for its toughness in the paint, Washington and Reggie Keely overpowered the Thundering Herd forwards.
With five minutes to play in the game, Washington struck with an ally-oop and athletic lay-up to put Ohio up 59-56.
Keely, who has been trying to find his rhythm all season, constantly fought for rebounds on his way to 13 on the night and had key blocks against Marshall’s Terrell Baines.
“I just wanted to get this win,” Keely said. “I didn’t want our seniors going out with two straight losses. I want us to be known as a good postseason team.”
Despite a thigh contusion, point guard D.J. Cooper willed Ohio late in the game, even as he struggled to find space against Marshall. Ignoring his injury, he drove right at the Marshall defense with 1:30 left, lofting a lay-up in to put Ohio up permanently, 65-64
The attitudes of each team reversed after the beginning of the contest. Ohio appeared groggy as Marshall jumped out to a quick 9-1 lead, but the Bobcats changed their effort after coach John Groce’s timeout during the first minute of the game.
“I thought we really responded well to that,” Groce said. “I challenged them a little bit to be the more aggressive team to start the game, so it was disappointing because we had emphasized that for a few days.”
Kane attacked the Bobcats in the first half and finished with 12 points. But he constantly bickered with Marshall head coach Tom Herrion in the second half, signifying the Thundering Herd’s loss of control on the game.
With Ohio moving on, Keely in the others now focus on recovering and playing their next game, which hasn’t been announced yet.
“The game was real tiring,” Keely said. “This is the 34th game of the year, so everyone’s tired. Rest, icing, all that stuff is going to be part of the regiment the next couple of days.”