The senior trio of Stevie Taylor, Bean Willis and Maurice Ndour made sure to leave the Convocation Center on a high note. The three combined for 67 points in Ohio’s 95-65 rout of Miami on Friday night.
“It was very clearly three seniors that said ‘enough is enough, we’re not gonna lose on senior night’,” Ohio coach Saul Phillips said after the game on the Ohio IMG Sports Network. “These guys went out and harnessed the emotion for good things.”
Willis led the ‘Cats offensive barrage with a career-high 34 points, including 10 3-pointers, and added six assists and six rebounds. The scoring outburst was Willis’ 20th game in double-digits this season.
Confidence oozed from Willis’ skin and that was evident when he repeatedly spotted up from 3-point land, regardless of where he, and his defender, was.
Ndour recorded 27 points, 11 rebounds and a career-high six blocks. The double-double performance was the Senegalese forward’s tenth of the season. He even decided to practice his interviewing skills after the game:
Saul Phillips carried the cutouts of Willis and Ndour into his postgame press conference. Appropriate, considering the two have carried Phillips’ team all season long.
Stevie Taylor finished with six points, two assists and two steals, and Phillips said that the senior from Gahanna handled the rigid Miami press “masterfully.” Taylor didn’t turn the ball over once in 33 minutes of play, the most playing time he’s seen since a November loss to Belmont.
“I just want to be remembered for my energy and my effort,” Taylor said. “I wanted to embrace this school and fall in love with it, and that’s what I did.”
Everything seemed to click for the Bobcats (10-19, 5-13 MAC), as they shot 57 percent from the field and stifled the RedHawks on defense.
“I told my guys if they shoot like that, we’re making a final four run,” Phillips said. “I thought they shared the ball very well early on tonight.”
The Bobcats dominated the game throughout and only trailed when the RedHawks led 3-0. Ohio held a 53-30 advantage at halftime.
Will Sullivan led Miami (13-18, 8-10 MAC) with 19 points. Eric Washington added 10 points and eight assists in the losing effort. The RedHawks shot poorly, finishing at 37 percent from the field.
The win ended a seven-game losing skid for Ohio. The Bobcats will travel to Kalamazoo on Monday as a No. 11 seed in the MAC Tournament to take on the No. 6 seeded Western Michigan Broncos. The game is set for 8 p.m., but will follow the conclusion of Western Michigan’s women’s game.
“Let’s go to that tournament as the loosest team in history and see if we can ride this lightning rod,” Phillips said.
Stevie Taylor thinks the ‘Cats have nothing to lose.
“Let’s go out and spoil some teams’ seasons,” he said with a grin on his face.
The Green & White were all smiles tonight for the first time in what felt like ages.
“Everybody please enjoy tonight,” Phillips said. “This thing is built for the long haul, but tonight it was about our seniors.”