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Coach Saul Phillips calls from the bench during a game against Western Michigan in the The Convo on Jan. 19. (FILE)

Men's Basketball: Ohio beats Miami 69-55, clinches No. 2 seed in MAC Tourney

An hour after the final buzzer, Kenny Kaminski and Drew Crabtree were still on the floor, appreciating their final moments in The Convo.

In Ohio’s 69-55 win over Miami on Friday night, Kaminski’s last game in the arena meant 12 points and seven rebounds in 35 minutes. For Crabtree, his final appearance lasted four seconds with a standing ovation.

As Kaminski replaced Crabtree during the standing ovation, the two embraced. Crabtree will be Kaminski’s best man in the latter’s upcoming wedding.

“That was incredible,” Kaminski said. “It’s hard to put into words.”

The hug was also a relief — the first time Ohio actively relaxed in Friday’s nervy game. 

For the Bobcats, the win closed the regular season and secured the second seed in the Mid-American Conference Tournament. Ohio’s next opponent is undetermined, but the next game will be Thursday in Cleveland.

“I feel accomplished,” Kaminski said in his postgame interview. “I can honestly say I put everything I had in this team. It was a good way for us to go out.”

The way out was scrappy. Both teams combined for a combined 29 turnovers and neither team shot over 40 percent from the floor. Ohio only shot 35.6 percent.

But it was a passing grade.

“Looks like we needed it,” coach Saul Phillips said.

Had Ohio lost, it would’ve added another game to the schedule — a first round home matchup. Instead, Phillips said the team will use the down time to recover.

During the first half, Jaaron Simmons exited the game with a leg injury but returned for 10 points and six rebounds. Doug Taylor also had an injury, which Phillips said was only an injured toenail, but finished with seven points and five rebounds.

The focus Friday was just preserving the No. 2 seed. Needing only a single win to close the regular season, the Bobcats (19-10, 11-7 MAC) lost consecutive games before the Miami win, which resembled a grudge match more than a 14-point Senior Night victory.

The RedHawks (11-20, 4-14 MAC) disintegrated as the game continued, picking up three technical fouls as the Bobcats clawed through a combined 29 turnovers.

The 55 points allowed was the fewest Ohio’s allowed in a conference game, besides the 53-49 loss to Eastern Michigan when Antonio Campbell broke his foot, ending his season. Against Miami, Campbell made his final visit on the court, receiving a standing ovation during his Senior Night introduction.

Once the game began, it was Campbell’s replacement who made the biggest impact.

Jason Carter finished with a team-high 16 points and 17 rebounds — marking his fifth double-double and a career-high in rebounds.

After the game Carter said he felt lucky being in the right spot for hauling rebounds, which piled up as Ohio’s missed shots tallied up and Miami’s rebounding presence was nonexistent. The Bobcats had a 20-plus rebounding margin (49-29).

“What he doesn’t want to say is he does all the little things right,” Kaminski said of Carter. “That’s why he’s so successful.”

That’s also why Ohio has continued its success after Campbell’s injury. While the Bobcats were 8-7 without him, they're in the same spot in the conference standings.

“It’s been immeasurable” Phillips said of Carter’s post-Campbell production. “It’s the reason we’ve been able to salvage our season.”

That season will continue next Thursday.

“Honestly, all 15 guys are confident we’re going to win a championship,” Kaminski said. “We’re a winning culture and do things right.”


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