Gavin Block let one fly, a 60-plus-foot desperation heave to send the game to overtime for possibly the upset of the season in the Mid-American Conference.
Ohio inched its way into an upset bid little by little Tuesday night, earning the right for Block to take that last shot. Buffalo star CJ Massinburg missed two free throws to give Block a chance with the shot.
The Convo was in a frenzy in the seconds leading up to the shot Block took off a missed Buffalo free throw. But the silence was deafening in the eternity it took the ball to travel through the air toward the backboard.
That shot didn’t go in. Block didn’t tie the game with a miracle at the horn.
Ohio didn’t pull off the unthinkable. Instead, the Bobcats came up just short in their 82-79 loss to No. 19 Buffalo.
“You get so many cracks at a ranked team when you play in the MAC,” said coach Saul Phillips, who was more short-spoken than after the other Ohio conference losses. “We had a crack, and we made a loud out. A loud out.”
The Bobcats had their chances. They pulled within one of the Bulls with 5:32 to play, and it was a two-point game with 4:20 to go. But Buffalo cushioned its lead with back-to-back 3s from Jeremy Harris and presumed MAC Player of the Year Massinburg. Ohio pushed back within three, but never was able to take the lead.
Those big shots were just two of the 15 made 3s by Buffalo, who clinched the MAC regular season title with the road win. The Bobcats were fighting for an opportunity to host a tournament game, but that dream is dead. Ohio (13-16, 5-12 MAC) will hit the road for the first round on Monday.
It nearly was a possibility, though. Early in the second half, Ohio made a charge while Buffalo missed five straight 3s to open the half. The Bobcats, led by senior big man Doug Taylor’s career-high 20 points, had the 5,834 fans on their feet, and upset-alerts seemed to be sent.
Each time Ohio came within a possession, Buffalo (27-3, 15-2 MAC) had an answer. The Bulls led by as many as 12 in the second half, and the game was on ice. Until it wasn’t.
Ohio answered with a 13-2 run. The Bobcats had the Bulls on their heels.
But Buffalo’s a top-25 team. The same top-25 team that went to West Virginia and won. And went to the Carrier Dome at Syracuse and won.
It’s also the team that beat Ohio by 47 the last time these teams met — on Feb. 19 at Buffalo. The Bobcats didn’t forget that game, in which the Bulls hit a MAC record 19 3s and embarrassed them.
“I feel like we didn’t show our best selves the first game, obviously,” Taylor said. “Them coming in here (to The Convo), (we were) just trying to make as strong of a statement as possible.”
Taylor and the Bobcats nearly did make that strong statement. Ohio worked its way back into the game Tuesday night on multiple occasions. The Bobcats shot for the win with a 60-plus-foot chuck that would have made up that 47-point deficit from the time before. It would’ve sent The Convo into a party as the game went to overtime.
And it would’ve turned the conference upside down for one March night. But Gavin Block’s shot missed, and the Bobcats came up just short of an upset.
“We were three points short,” Phillips said when asked if it made him feel better to make up for what Buffalo did to Ohio earlier this season.
Three points short an upset over a ranked team — which hasn’t happened in The Convo since 1996, a record still standing that survived Block’s desperation heave.