OXFORD, Ohio -- Sophomore guard Jaaron Simmons scored on a driving layup with 1:08 remaining, and that proved to be the game winner as Ohio edged Miami 67-65 Friday at Millett Hall.
The Bobcats victory not only provided OU with another Battle of the Bricks win against the rival RedHawks, it vaulted Ohio into a No. 2 seed in next week’s Mid-American Conference tournament. Several other contenders for the spot behind No. 1 Akron fell by the wayside in Friday’s action. That means the Bobcats will have a first round bye and face Monday’s winner of Northern Illinois and Western Michigan Thursday at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. Miami, a No. 11 seed, will be at Ball State.
It was still . . .
Ohio connected on 16-of-31 overall during the first half. That included 7-of-11 from beyond the arc. Treg Setty (2-of-4) and Gavin Block (2-of-3) led the trey way for Ohio, which hit 63.6 percent (7-of-11) from distance.
Miami was just 1-of-6 on threes, but 13-of-26 overall and 7-of-8 at the line. The disparity in three-point shooting would ultimately prove to be a major difference in the contest.
Ohio managed to push its advantage out to 12 points by the 15:18 mark of the second period. Geovonie McKnight, who led Miami scorers with 22 points, then connected on a pair of free throws to start a 9-0 MU run to make it a 50-47 game.
The RedHawks fell behind by six before getting back within two again at 58-56 with 6:27 remaining.
When OU bumped it back up to five, it looked like MU would not be able to get over the hump. Bryant, however, started – and ended – a 9-2 Miami burst that gave the hosts a 65-64 edge with 1:44 remaining.
The RedHawks only lead of the contest lasted three seconds as Moore was whistled for a foul while attempting a steal in the backcourt. Simmons, who provided all of Ohio’s final five points, hit one of two free throws to tie the contest.
When Washington drew an offensive foul at the other end, Simmons came up with his pivotal drive to lift Ohio back in front, 67-65. Miami missed on a shot with 39 seconds left, and Simmons did likewise with eight ticks remaining. Miami got the rebound, but Washington’s long try was off the mark.
That meant MU finished the game connecting 3-of-17 on threes, a step back from what it had been doing in its recent three-game winning streak, but symptomatic of some offensive struggles previous to that. Washington hit 2-of-5 from distance, and McKnight was 1-of-1. The rest of the team was 0-for-10.
Ohio did its’ long distance damage in the first half, but it still finished 8-of-15 beyond the arc. Setty, Campbell and Block accounted for 6-of-8 treys.
Both teams were solid from the free throw line. Miami connected on 14-of-15 (93.3%), while Ohio drained 9-of-10 (90%).
Ohio’s win broke a three-game Miami win streak and thwarted what would have been a stretch in which MU avenged every loss to MAC East foes in their first meeting.
Campbell’s 25 led all scorers. Joining him in double figures were Block (16), Simmons (12) and Setty (11). Miami was led by McKnight’s 22. He was followed by Bryant (10) and Washington’s double-double (10 points, 10 assists).