Cleveland, OH: The third game from Quicken Loans Arena of the 2017 MAC Tournament Men’s Quarterfinal pitted second seeded Ohio University against the Rockets of Toledo, who claimed the seven seed in this year’s tournament.
Toledo won the earlier matchup in the year by a final of 79-76, led by senior forward Steve Taylor’s 25 point performance. The Bobcats came into the matchup with the top defense in the MAC, giving up 70 points a game but holding opponents to 41% shooting from the field.
The first half would be nothing but Toledo. Within the first 5 minutes, the Rockets were running like a well-oiled machine, going 4-5 from the field and 2-2 from deep to start. They would finish the half shooting 52% overall and 54% from downtown. Ohio, on the other hand, looked all out of sorts on the offensive end. Some poor shots mixed in with some atrocious fast break decisions left Ohio facing a 37-29 deficit at the half, shooting just 36% and a measly 15.4% from deep.
One bright spot for Ohio was Freshman big man Jason Carter’s put-back at the buzzer to make it a single digit game, giving the Bobcats some momentum heading into the second half.
Jonathon Williams, a senior, paced the Rockets offense with 11 points. For the Bobcats, it was none other than Jaaron Simmons, as the First Team All-MAC recipient had 12 first half points.
A quick 12-0 run out of the gate got the Ohio crowd back into it in a hurry, as the Bobcats defense locked in and finally looked formidable in their transition offense. At the first media timeout, the Bobcats would hold a 41-37 lead.
Toledo would struggle mightily to start the second half as the Rockets would go 0-for beyond the arc until sophomore guard Jaelen Sanford connected on a corner triple, making it 50-45 Bobcats at the 10-minute mark.
The most exciting part of the game (per usual) was the final minute. Nate Navigato, a sophomore for Toledo, nailed his second triple of the night to tie the game at 64 a piece with 40 seconds left.
Jonathan Williams would knock the ball away and finish a fast break layup following his steal to put the Rockets up two.
Jason Carter, who was electric for Ohio all second half, split a pair of free throws with 23 seconds left. Steve Taylor of Toledo would then get fouled and miss the front end of his one-and-one.
It would be Kenny Kaminski of Ohio who would claim hero of the night, as he connected on a 15-footer from the right wing to put Ohio up 67-66. “It was big time for sure”, Kaminski said about the shot. Jonathan Williams would race down the court and put up a floater in traffic that would fall short. Jordan Lauf grabbed the rebound but his put-back attempt was rushed and well off the mark, as the Rockets would run out of the time in this game and in their season.
Jaaron Simmons would be the high-scoring man for Ohio, pouring in a 24 point performance. For Toledo, Jonathan Williams managed to put in 18 and got an unexpected 12-point performance from senior Jordan Lauf, however their efforts would not be enough.
Catch the Bobcats in action tomorrow night at The Q in the semi-finals!