MUNCIE, Ind. - Armon Bassett scored a game-high 25 points to lead four Bobcats in double figures and Ohio advanced to the Mid-American Conference tournament quarterfinals with an 85-77 win over Ball State Sunday in Worthen Arena. Ohio, the No. 9 seed, will now take on top-seeded Kent State Thursday at 7 p.m. in Cleveland's Quicken Loans Arena.
Heading into the game, Ohio was just 1-6 all-time against the Cardinals in MAC Tournament play. However, that lone win came in 1994, a year the Bobcats went on to win the tourney. Ohio ultimately wore down the BSU attack as the Bobcats became the only road team to win in Sunday's first round.
Ohio struggled to get in a rhythm during the first half as D.J. Cooper picked up three personal fouls and the Cardinals shot 56.5 percent from the field. Ball State took their largest lead of the period with 8:08 remaining at 22-13 after a layup by Randy Davis. The BSU guard finished with a team-high 21 points, hitting four three-pointers and dishing out five assists. Ohio fought back and cut the deficit to three by intermission after a Bassett layup with three seconds left.
Ohio trailed by 10 with 10:29 to go but slowly trimmed the lead, lowering it to one possession on four separate occasions. Still down two with 1:44 remaining, Cooper drove to the bucket for a layup that evened the score, 67-67. Trailing by two once again, Bassett tied it again on a layup with 54 seconds on the clock.
After getting a stop, Davis committed a foul on Cooper in the backcourt with 16 seconds left. However, the freshman was short on both attempts and BSU still had a chance for the win after calling timeout with 11 seconds to go. Once again, Ohio's defense got the stop, sending the game into overtime.
Bassett led all scorers with 25 points, while DeVaughn Washington and Muncie native Tommy Freeman each added 15. Washington posted seven boards and Freeman went 5-for-5 from behind the arc, while Cooper once again neared a triple-double with 12 points, nine rebounds and eight assists. Despite some late second-half misses, the `Cats were exceptional at the line going 27-34 overall and 7-8 in overtime.
With the game tied 71-71 in the extra period, Washington wriggled free for a layup that gave the Green & White their first lead since the game's opening minute. The Cardinals cut the lead to one on two separate trips, the last time with 1:45 in the extra frame after a Davis trifecta. But despite pressure, Ohio received five points from Kenneth van Kempen, a pivotal corner three from Freeman, and big-time free throws down the stretch from Bassett and Cooper to salt the game away.
Courtesy of OU Athletics