The game went back and forth between Ohio and VMI for 40 minutes of basketball in the Convo on Wednesday night. Ohio got out on the right foot to open the game and VMI had the strong finish to get the Keydets past the Green and White 92-90 to advance to the final four of the CIT and end Ohio’s season.
Senior guard Nick Kellogg made sure to go out on top in his final game as a Bobcat, draining six 3 pointers en route to a career high 30 points in front of an electric crowd in the Convo.
Ohio also got a great night out of Maurice Ndour who had a great day shooting, going 12-13 from the field and finishing with 26 points and seven rebounds.
VMI came in the highest scoring team in the country, averaging over 85 points per contest. In their previous two wins, VMI put up 111 in a win over Canisius and 106 over IPFW.
Knowing they would have to be able to score in bunches, Ohio couldn’t have the offensive outing they had in their two previous CIT wins (64 vs. Cleveland State and 56 vs. Wright State). The Bobcats got the quick start they needed, a 13-0 run after VMI got the scoring started with a three by Rodney Glascow. Maurice Ndour scored nine straight points and a layup from Javarez Willis ended the run and forced a Keydet timeout.
After VMI was able to cut the lead down to seven, Ohio went on their second run of the half. This one a 14-5 run starting with a three point play by Wadly Mompremier (his first points of the CIT) and ending with three straight easy layups from Willis, Treg Setty and Kellogg that forced another VMI timeout. VMI wouldn’t give in early, as D.J. Covington along with Glascow combined for 16 points in the rest of the first half to cut Ohio’s lead to seven at 46-39 mark going into intermission.
The second half was everything VMI and their fans could have asked for, a half that had to be one of their best all season when they needed it most. After a Kellogg three put Ohio up by eight at a 51-43 mark, an 11-2 Keydet run gave VMI their first lead since the opening minutes of the game. Just three minutes later, Tim Marshall knocked down a three that gave VMI a 65-62 advantage. Marshall would knock down a pair of free throws right before Covington, who ended up with 29 points in the game was fouled by Setty and got the bucket to fall to give VMI their biggest lead of the game at 84-72.
It was do or die time for Ohio, needing to overcome a double-digit deficit against an explosive team who could score at will and was shooting lights out in the second half. It started with Ndour who hit back to back layups and cut the game to ten.
Then Kellogg, who got two foul shots to go down cut the lead to five. Needing a turnover , the Bobcats got just that as Covington traveled with the inbounds pass and gave possession back to Ohio. After a 30 second timeout, a perfect play drawn up in the huddle found Nick Kellogg in the corner for another three ball to cut the lead to three.
Ohio would get a chance after a defensive stop and 1:20 left in the game to tie the game. Trailing by three, Ohio had a lousy possession. Wasting most of the time, the possession ended with Stevie Taylor trying a long contested three pointer that rimmed out. Just nine seconds after the miss, Marshall found Glascow wide open for an easy lay up that put VMI up 88-83 with just over a half minute to play.
Willis and Covington would each add a pair of free throws to keep it a five point game. Needing a quick score with only 20 seconds left, Ohio could only manage a put back bucket from Travis Wilkins with only six seconds remaining. Glascow would add the final two of his team high 30 points with a pair of free throws to put the game away.
Fittingly, the final buzzer would sound and Nick Kellogg would drain his final three pointer as an Ohio Bobcat.
Another key part for the Ohio in this game and all season was the Red Shirt Junior Willis who has been playing great as of late. Willis put up 13 points and six assists in the final game of the season.
– Antonio Campbell ,who has been averaging around 20 minutes per game this postseason, ran into foul trouble in this game with two in the first half. Campbell finished with only 12 minutes and six points.
– Travis Wilkins struggled in his final game in the Green and White. Wilkins shot three 3 pointers, missing all of them with his only bucket coming on a put back with seven seconds left in the game.
– VMI shot 67 percent from the field in the second half, which included 5-8 from the three.
-VMI went 21-25 from the line while Ohio went 11-16.
-VMI had 15 offensive rebounds to Ohio’s 9. Ohio was out-rebounded 37-30.
An emotional Kellogg after the game would say, “I’m glad I could spend my college career at a great school and a great atmosphere. I have surely been blessed.”
So the Ohio tournament run ends as well as the season with a final record of 25-12. Just the third Ohio team to ever get to the 25 win mark and the Senior Class will end their Ohio Basketball careers as the winningest class in history with 97 victories under their belt.