Men’s basketball: Bobcats unable to complete comeback against Bulls

There was 39.6 seconds left to play, and the Ohio Bobcats were down, 67-64. Point guard Bean Willis walked the ball up the court, and, after coming off a screen, he released the ball from the top of the key.

His shot came off the rim, and, after Buffalo missed an easy layup to increase the lead to five, Ohio still had an opportunity to force overtime. It was TJ Hall who had the open look on this occasion, but his shot did not hit any part of the hoop.

The Ohio Bobcats saw their seven-game win streak against the Buffalo Bulls come to an end in a 69-64 defeat at the Convo on Wednesday night.

“We feel like we let one slip away,” redshirt sophomore Treg Setty said. “Coach (Christian) tells us to cut it (playing poorly in the first half) out. We weren’t able to overcome it.”

Down 48-31 with 16:30 left, Ohio was looking for someone to provide a lift, and Setty was the player who made the plays Ohio coach Jim Christian was looking for.

Setty went to the basket and got fouled, which resulted in two free throw makes, and his next drive to the basket produced a layup and made the score 48-35 in favor of Buffalo.

Setty failed to record a steal with 14:30 left, but, a minute later, he played solid defense on Javon McCrea, which led to a missed shot.

Following the missed shot, Willis found Hall in the right corner, and his 3-pointer cut Buffalo’s lead to 48-43 with 13:05 left in the game.

Down by seven, Setty had the ball at the top of the key, and his one-handed pass found a cutting Travis Wilkins, whose reverse layup made the score 50-45 with 12:21 remaining in the game.

Fresh off a pair of Nick Kellogg free throws and a dunk from Jon Smith, Setty was at it again. This time, Setty hit a 3-pointer from the left corner to halve Ohio’s deficit to three, 58-55, with 7:26 left to go.

With Ohio (19-9, 9-6 MAC) trailing by five, Setty attacked the basket yet again, and he drew the foul and buried two free throws to cut Ohio’s deficit to 61-58 with five minutes left to play.

McCrea hit a jumper to increase Buffalo’s lead to 63-58, but Willis answered back with a deep 3-pointer to cut Buffalo’s lead to 63-61.

McCrea hit his second consecutive  jumper to give Buffalo (17-8, 11-4 MAC) a four-point lead, but Kellogg hit a 3-pointer from the right wing to cut Buffalo’s lead to one with 1:10 remaining in the game.

“If you have a chance to control your own destiny, you have to take advantage of it,” Christian said. “If you are trying to get a top-4 seed in the MAC Tournament, you have to play well for three straight games, and we have yet to do that.”

McCrea was then fouled on a drive to the basket. He made his first free-throw attempt, Christian called his final timeout, and McCrea hit his second attempt to make the score 67-64.

“We wanted to call a timeout to ice him (McCrea).” Christian said. “We wanted to extend the game and look for Mo (Ndour) in the post, but they were playing a zone.”

With the loss, Ohio is now 24-8 in its past 32 MAC games; Ohio’s home record now stands at 11-5 this season.

Ohio will play its final regular-season home game on Saturday when it faces off against Kent State at 2 p.m.

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