Kenny Kaminski was never supposed to be the hero. He basically had just one foot.
Playing with a sprained ankle, he was supposed to be a decoy on the final possession. Coach Saul Phillips only wanted him, if needed, to shoot an open jump shot. But the final play didn't go as planned, so Kaminski ended up with the ball, and the game, in his hands.
With just two seconds left, Kaminski pump faked twice and let a one-legged shot fly across a silent Alumni Arena in Buffalo. It hit nothing but the net.
His last-second shot shot gave Ohio a 74-72 comeback win over Buffalo on Tuesday night to lift Ohio to 11-3 this season.
“For those people at home that have no idea, Kenny’s foot is hurting right now," Phillips said. "He hit that on a bad wheel. I put him in there and went, ‘Can you stand in the corner, hit an open jumper?’ He said yeah, but he wasn’t all that open. He made it happen on his own.”
It wasn't a great night for any of Ohio's big scorers early on, however. Kaminski scored 12 points on the night, Antonio Campbell fouled out in the second half and Jaaron Simmons added 11. Campbell only played 17 minutes.
But Kaminski's final shot concluded a stellar comeback for the Bobcats, who had trailed by 15 with 15 minutes left to go in the half.
“Coach does such a good job making us be as calm as possible, it’s a 40-minute ball game," Kaminski said. "That’s a lot of time. We just take everything one possession at a time and just because they’re making shots early, doesn't mean we’re not going to make our shots and our runs later in the game.”
It was a sloppy game that even Kaminski couldn't keep his hands clean from. He, along with one other Bobcat and two other Bulls, picked up a technical foul. A total of 48 fouls were called on both teams.
“I just took a deep breath ... basically I read the room," Kaminski said. "There was a lot of tension, the Buffalo players and us were really battling at the boards, it was a very very physical game. I knew that the team that was going to keep its head was going to come out on top.”
But even with Ohio's comeback effort, Buffalo still led 55-51 with just over eight minutes left in the second half. And just as the Bulls were about to lose their lead, they lost their heads.
Nick Perkins committed a double technical after committing a foul, as Ohio's four-point deficit turned into a two point lead. Just 14 seconds later, Willie Connor elbowed Ohio's Mike Laster in the head to give Ohio another set of free throws.
In just 14 seconds, Ohio scored eight points off of just free throws to take its first lead of the game and earn a four-point lead. It was the only lead change of the game.
“I told the guys, ‘We’re drawing that kind of ire from our opponents this year and we didn’t last year, why do you think that is?’ Because we’re tough, we play defense and we’ll stand our ground," Phillips said. "That starts in the weight room in the summer, a group of guys that are willing to lay it down for each other.”
It was a fitting end to a night that saw five technical fouls, nearly 50 fouls and a host of turnovers. Even after a second half where Ohio outscored Buffalo 44-30 before the final possession, the game came down to a sharpshooter's shot off one leg.
"I was supposed to be a decoy, but the ball just kinda ended up in my hands," Kaminski said. "I knew there wasn’t much time on the clock, the guy closed out, it was great defense, it was just one of those things where I busted a move and it fell through the net.”