With Ohio and Cleveland State tied at 62 with 27.3 seconds left in the game, Ohio coach Jim Christian called a timeout to draw up one final play.
Junior forward Maurice Ndour got the ball in the post, and with the defense collapsed on him, he found freshman forward Tony Campbell, who got fouled while he was going up for a layup attempt with 4.7 seconds remaining in the game.
Campbell made both free throw attempts, the Vikings’ final shot attempt failed to hit the rim, and the Ohio Bobcats advanced to the second round of the CIT by defeating the Cleveland State Vikings, 64-62, at The Convo on Wednesday night.
“We have a lot of belief in this basketball team,” Christian said. “We need every single one of them, and I have confidence in every single one of them.”
After Cleveland State took a one-point lead with 7:15 left, Campbell made a pair of free throws to make the score 53-52 in favor of Ohio with 6:51 left to play.
“I have been practicing a lot on my free-throw shooting,” Campbell said. “I was nervous when I was at the free-throw line at the beginning of the season, but I was able to overcome that, and I was able to knock them down tonight.”
Campbell added one more free throw 26 seconds later, and his layup with 5:09 remaining in the game gave Ohio a 56-54 lead.
Campbell, a Cincinnati, Ohio, native, made two more free throws to give Ohio a 58-56 advantage with 3:46 left to play. With 3:29 left to play, Campbell made another layup to increase Ohio’s lead to four.
“I was ready to play tonight,” Campbell said. “Coach told me to be ready to play tonight. I took that to heart, and I felt like I played good.”
Before Campbell was at the free-throw line with 4.7 seconds remaining, Ohio (24-11) needed one of its seniors to make an impact.
With the game tied at 60, Ohio guard Nick Kellogg had the ball on the left corner of the court, and his long two-point shot handed Ohio a 62-60 lead with 46 seconds left to play.
“It was a huge play for us,” Christian said. “That’s exactly what he does. He made a big shot for us. He’s a good player.”
Ohio was leading 32-31 at halftime, and Campbell, who scored a career-high 21 points and grabbed three rebounds, converted a layup and a free throw to give Ohio a 35-31 lead with 19:24 left to play in the game.
Campbell made another close-range shot and free throw to give Ohio a 40-35 lead with 15:27 remaining in the game.
The big highlight from Campbell came with 13:41 left to go in the game. Kellogg saw Campbell open in the paint, and Campbell converted on the alley-oop to give Ohio a 42-37 lead.
Ohio is now 10-2 all-time against Cleveland State (21-12); Ohio has also improved its all-time record to 12-20 in postseason tournaments.
Ohio has now won five of its last six overall games.
Ohio will host another game at The Convo. The Bobcats will play Wright State on Saturday at 2 p.m.