ATHENS, Ohio – Ohio University's Stevie Taylor played only seven minutes and made one shot on Saturday at the Convocation Center, but that lone basket proved to be the game-winner as the Bobcats held off Kent State 78-75 in overtime in another one-possession heartbreaker for the Golden Flashes.
Taylor hit a three from the right wing with 10 seconds to play to eclipse what had been a 75-73 Kent State lead. When the Golden Flashes desperation bid to answering was spoiled by a turnover, it turned into an easy layup for Ohio's Nick Kellogg that helped the Bobcats seal the victory.
"Credit Stevie Taylor," said Kent State head coach Rob Senderoff. "He hit a big shot. I'm guessing it's the biggest shot of his career. Great shot by him. Great play by him. We are obviously disappointed because we played hard enough to win. We just didn't play quite good enough to win."
A sloppy close to the first half by Kent State allowed Ohio to take a 31-26 lead at the break. Even more careless play in the second half helped the Bobcats extend their advantage to 15 points with 15:25 to play. The Golden Flashes finished the game with 22 turnovers leading to 26 Ohio points.
A three by Randal Holt and a fast-break dunk by Chris Evans highlighted a 12-0 run that pulled Kent State back into the game late in the second half. Kris Brewer added a string of free throws at the end of regulation and in overtime to give the Golden Flashes their chances to pull off the upset.
They had similar opportunities in a 69-68 loss to the Bobcats in Kent back on Jan. 26.
"We lost to them at home by one possession. We lost to them on the road by one possession," said Kent State forward Darren Goodson. "The reason they were up on us (on Saturday) was because we played selfish basketball in the first half. We came back later in the second half and played better, and we were able to take it to overtime. But they were one possession better than us."
Ohio improved to 18-6 overall and 9-1 in Mid-American Conference play while Kent State fell to 14-12 overall and 5-7 against league opponents.
"We can compete with a lot of teams in the league," said Senderoff. "These guys are an excellent team. They are great at home and they are very well coached. They've won 18 games. But we feel we can play with anyone … It's another one-possession loss. We played as well as they did for 44 minutes and 45 seconds. Sometimes that happens."
Walter Offutt led Ohio with 17 points. D.J. Cooper added 13 before fouling out late in overtime, giving Taylor the opportunity to step in to hit the game-winner. Kellogg added 12 and Reggie Keely scored 10 for the Bobcats.
Evans recorded his second consecutive double-double with 18 points and 14 rebounds to lead Kent State. Brewer added 14 points and a team-high six assists.
The Golden Flashes out-rebounded Ohio 43-30.
After a week off, Kent State will travel to Loyola Chicago on March 11 for the final BracketBusters Saturday.