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'Hawks fall to Bobcats in Battle of Bricks

By Zach Maciaszek
On March 8, 2014

The Miami University men's basketball team (12-17, 8-10 MAC) fell to its rival Ohio University (21-10, 11-7 MAC) 82-76 in an epic overtime battle Saturday afternoon at Millett Hall in its last game of the regular season.  

The game played like a prizefight between two grizzled heavyweights, as both teams traded baskets like haymakers. It was clear from the onset that this matchup would come down to the final round; whoever got the last jab in would be the one left standing. It seemed fitting that overtime would be needed to settle the score.

The atmosphere in Millett Hall was more electric than it has been all season, as the fans showed up in full force for the Battle of the Bricks. It was also Senior Day, and Miami's three seniors - forward Will Felder, and guards Quinten Rollins and Philip Bennett - were honored before tip-off. 

Miami head coach John Cooper said he was upset the RedHawks couldn't send the seniors off with a win on Senior Day, particularly Felder and Rollins.

"I'm disappointed that they didn't go out winning their last game after having the careers that they've had," Cooper said. "I think this day is always all about the seniors and our job is to send them out the right way and we just couldn't do that."

Sophomore guard Willie Moore scored a game-high 24 points for Miami. Rollins and junior guard Will Sullivan tied for second on the 'Hawks with 12 points apiece.

Freshman forward Maurice Ndour and junior guard Javarez Willis led the Bobcats with 15 points each.

It was largely a back-and-forth affair in a first half that saw three ties and four lead changes. The RedHawks shot 51.9 percent from the field while the Bobcats shot 55.6 percent. The key difference was in 3-point shooting. Ohio shot 6-10 from beyond the arc, while Miami managed a measly 1-9 from distance.

Moore scored 13 points in the first half, his last three coming on a spinning layup and foul with 1.9 seconds to go. Moore stole the inbounds pass on the next possession and lined up a 3-pointer, but the momentum shot did not go in. Miami entered the locker room down 37-33.

The 'Hawks came out strong to open the second half. MU went on a 12-6 run to take the lead 49-43 with 15:10 remaining. Miami maintained that lead for most of the second period, only losing it in the last seconds of regulation.

The final minute of regulation was frantic. Ultimately, Miami was undone by what was considered one of its greatest strengths: free-throw shooting. 

The Bobcats' senior guard Nick Kellogg stripped Moore of the ball and raced up the court, only to give the ball right back to the 'Hawks on an out-of-control pass under his own basket. Miami sophomore guard Geovonie McKnight was fouled on the subsequent inbounds but missed the first half of the one-and-one free throw chance.

On the next possession Ohio's Travis Wilkins missed a 3-pointer with 11 seconds remaining. Miami gained control of the rebound and Rollins was fouled but missed his first free throw, giving the ball back to the Bobcats.

This time down the court OU capitalized on their good fortune, as Ndour drove to the basket and laid the ball in off of the glass with three seconds remaining. Kellogg stole the inbounds pass on the next possession and hit what would have been the game-winning 3-pointer, but he was ruled out of bounds and Miami got the ball back with 0.7 seconds on the clock. A Sullivan half-court heave was not in the cards, and the game went into overtime tied at 68.

OU rode the momentum of its last-second comeback into overtime. After a Rollins jumper gave the 'Hawks the lead 70-68, Kellogg nailed a 3-pointer to take the lead back 71-70. The Bobcats never relinquished the lead from that point on.

"I didn't like necessarily our energy at the end when the game went into overtime," Cooper said. "I didn't like our look. You always worry about that."

Despite the loss, the RedHawks still host a MAC tournament game 7 p.m against Kent State University. Yet Rollins said that does nothing to lessen the sting of this loss.

"You only get one Senior Day," Rollins said. "It's nice that we get a home playoff game, but you always want to win your Senior Day."

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