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Men's Basketball: Ohio rallies to beat Miami on Gary Trent Day

Gary Trent accomplished many things while wearing his No. 20 jersey at The Convo, but it was not until that jersey hung in the rafters that he would see Ohio defeat rival Miami at home on a day named in his honor.

The Bobcats (15-4, 3-2 Mid-American Conference) broke a two-game slide against the RedHawks in a dramatic come-from-behind 69-65 victory Saturday, dubbed Gary Trent Day.  And perhaps Trent’s halftime address to the announced crowd of 13,011 provided the spark that the Bobcats needed.

Ohio trailed most of the first half and had no answer to Miami’s 3-point shooting early in the game. At the offensive end, the Bobcats struggled to rebound and keep up with Miami’s long-range firepower.

Senior forward Julian Mavunga entered the game leading the MAC in scoring and rebounding. But it was one of the youngest and smallest players on the floor that made the biggest difference for the RedHawks (5-12, 1-4 MAC).

Freshman guard Brian Sullivan came off the bench and contributed immediately from long range. He went 4-for-4 from the field in the first half, including three 3-pointers. He finished the day with a team-high 16 points.

“He was pretty good today, wasn’t he?” Miami coach Charlie Coles said. “Smart beats strong any day. I love him. And by the way, he gets good grades.”

The Bobcats tried a variety of zone and man-to-man defenses to limit the RedHawks’ perimeter presence and to keep an eye on Mavunga, but rotations kept the Miami shooters open. Mavunga finished with only seven points but hauled in 10 rebounds.

The tide began to turn in the second half after Trent delivered his halftime address, during which he challenged Ohio’s student section to amp up its cheering.

“Now, O-Zone, we need to finish kicking Miami's ass,” he said.

Ohio entered the half trailing only by six points, but it took most of the half to claw back and regain the lead. The Bobcats trailed eight points with 5:40 to play before they finally found fifth gear.

D.J. Cooper, who had not made a field goal all game, poured in 10 points in the final five minutes, including a clutch 3-pointer that cut Miami’s lead to three with three minutes remaining. A steal and layup by Walter Offutt gave Ohio the lead for good, and he iced the win by pulling down a critical offensive rebound in the final minute of the contest.

“Every guy made a play or two that kept us in striking distance,” Ohio coach John Groce said.

Ohio’s forwards provided most of the offense while the team was cold from 3-point territory. Junior Ivo Baltic finished with a game-high 20 points, and Reggie Keely added 11. Keely was fouled on all four field goals that he made, and he sank three of the four ensuing and-one free throws.

“That’s our problem. We can’t close,” Coles said. “We don’t have any closers. None.”

Cooper said Ohio focused in on defense to start its comeback.

“We new we just had to get a stop at a time,” he said. “You can’t make eight points on one possession.”

The Bobcats now begin a six-game stretch of facing MAC West teams, beginning with a contest against Western Michigan Wednesday at The Convo.

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