Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
The Post - Athens, OH
The independent newspaper covering campus and community since 1911.
The Post
Photo provided by Ohio Athletics

Men's Basketball: Ohio rallies in second half to stun Virginia 62-58

BLOOMINGTON, Indiana — As the final buzzer rang in Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, the Bobcats stampeded off the bench and danced underneath Virginia’s basket. The few hundred friends and family members whipped shirts and hats into the air and jumped up and down in the stands. 

For the first time in nine years, Ohio won an NCAA Tournament game. In 2012, Ohio upset then-4-seed Michigan in the first round and advanced all the way to the Sweet 16.

History doesn’t repeat, but it sure does like to rhyme.

13-seed Ohio stunned 4-seed Virginia 62-58 in one of the most hallowed halls in college basketball. Assembly Hall’s steep bleachers rang with the cheers of Ohio faithful. 

Though it seemed for a minute that the Cavaliers might squeak the win out. The two teams had been going back and forth on a two-possession lead for most of the night. Virginia took off, and Ohio closed the gap. Rinse and repeat.

Ohio was never out of it. Its players were too stubborn, and the stakes were too great. If the game had to go down to the wire, so be it. It was better than the bus ticket back to Athens.

At halftime, Jeff Boals told the Bobcats to bend but not break. Virginia lured them into playing by its rules. Every possession was deliberate, and each shot was vital. 

Ohio had just 59 possessions the entire game and shot 42% from the field. In a normal game, stat lines like that cost Ohio the game. Its best games occur when the scoring busts wide open out of the gate. Ohio doesn’t bide its time.

The Bobcats knew Virginia’s defense was rock solid coming into Saturday. Even after shut down for a week due to COVID-19 issues, the Cavaliers were able to lock the Bobcats down and keep the score within arm’s reach. Ten total turnovers by Ohio doesn't help much.

But Ohio held on. 

“I think when they went small, we got kind of discombobulated,” Boals said after the game. “I thought after every timeout, our guys did a great job of executing. Even when the shot clock was running down, we tried to shrink the game a little bit.”

Ohio needed a breakthrough to turn the game on its head. Ben Vander Plas delivered on that request. The redshirt junior took matters into his own hands by going on a 10-2 run by himself. Vander Plas rallied the squad and threw Ohio into the lead. 

The redshirt junior’s 17 points, five rebounds and four assists led the Bobcats to the first upset of Saturday night. 

But Vander Plas rejects the praise. He pins the success on the players inclined to defense. Miles Brown and Lunden McDay were the keys in Vander Plas’ eyes. After all, had Brown and McDay not been so capable on defense, Vander Plas’ rally might’ve been worthless.

Boals recognizes the effort on defense as well.

“They kind of make you play that way,” Boals said. “They don't send all the guys to the boards. They get back in transition. When you come to March Madness, NCAA tournament, halfcourt offense, defense, execution is going to win you the game. Just really proud of our guys. I thought we got some really big stops late.”

Ohio beat Virginia at its own game.

Saturday belonged to the Bobcats, and now the entire country has seen what they are capable of. If the Bobcats can stun a 4-seed, what’s stopping them from upsetting 5-seed Creighton in the second round?

“I think we go into every single game expecting to win, preparing to win,” Ohio forward Ben Vander Plas said. “So we're going to try to win the whole thing. That's what we're here to do. We're going — what is it, five more games? We're going to try to win five more games one at a time.”


Powered by SNworks Solutions by The State News
All Content © 2016-2024 The Post, Athens OH