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Toledo Rockets lead 37-31 against the Ohio Bobcats at the half at the Semi-Finals of the MAC Men’s Basketball Tournament in Cleveland, Ohio on March 10, 2023.

Men's Basketball: Ohio falls in close battle with Austin Peay

On Friday night, Ohio (6-5) lost its third straight game, decided by two possessions or less against Austin Peay (7-7). While Ohio held leads in the second half, it ultimately fell 71-67.

Ohio certainly had chances to win its first road game of the season but by no means controlled it. Ohio's largest lead was only three points, but Austin Peay could stretch it to eight.

After its highest-scoring outing of the season against Defiance, Ohio could not keep its offensive rhythm against higher competition. The Bobcats finished with a season-low of 67 points on 38% shooting. Ohio's final point total and efficiency numbers didn't indicate how the team played in the first eight minutes. Ohio took a 16-14 lead after a three-point jumper from Ike Cornish.

Ohio made four of its first seven 3-point jumpers, including two from junior forward AJ Clayton. However, after the hot shooting start, Ohio went through a nearly four-minute scoring drought to fall behind 26-20 with 77 minutes to play in the first half. Ohio bounced back with multiple makes from Aidan Hadaway and Shereef Mitchell to get to halftime down 36-32.

The second half remained contested, but after Ohio's only real run of substance, 9-2, the team could take a 41-40 lead. AJ Clayton's third made 3-point jumper of the game was the shot that gave Ohio its first second-half lead. Clayton finished the game as one of three Bobcats to reach double figures, along with Mitchell and James.

Minutes later, Ohio took its largest lead off a made 3-point jumper from newly healthy fifth-year guard Miles Brown.

Down by three, the Governors immediately responded with a 5-0 scoring run to re-take the lead.

Despite some shooting woes, Ohio played strong enough defense to trail by five with three minutes to go. After both teams failed to convert shots, Jaylin Hunter hit a deep three-point jumper to pull Ohio within two.

The Governors made a layup on the next possession to take a four-point lead, but Mitchell responded with a layup. Jaylin Hunter fouled Demarcus Sharp on the Governors' next possession, but luckily for Ohio, Sharp connected on just one of two free throws.

With a minute to go and possession of the ball, Ohio had a chance to tie with Brown open in the corner for a potentially game-tying 3-point attempt. Brown's look was off the mark, and the Governors came up with the rebound.

From there, Ohio was forced to foul with just 36 seconds left, and despite some inconsistent free throw shooting from Austin Peay, Ohio never had the ball again with a chance to tie.

Austin Peay hung on to defeat Ohio 71-67.

Ohio's third loss in four games keeps up with a troubling theme for the team. Not only has Ohio shot under 40% in each of its last three losses and is averaging under 70 points per game, but the team is struggling to execute toward the end of close games.


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