"If you make free throws, you're ahead the entire game," said Marshall coach Greg White after the game. "But we didn't make them."
Ohio and Marshall duked it out in the fashion that has become customary whenever these two schools meet up on the hardwood. In the first half, Ronald Blackshear's ace three-point shooting enabled Marshall to pull out to an 11-point lead, 25-14, with 6:38 remaining. However, Ohio's post players (Patrick Flomo and Brandon Hunter) did the dirty work underneath and literally dunked their way back into contention towards the end of the first half.
Ohio's Brandon Hunter drives past J.R. VanHoose in the second half.
Ohio made free throws (five of them over the last 1:39) to cut the Marshall lead to only one point, 32-31, at halftime.
"Rebounding. A lot of tips, when we needed them," said OU's Brandon Hunter of how the Bobcats caught back up with Marshall in the first half.
In the second half, Marshall stayed within a basket of Ohio most of the time. Marshall did tie up the game at 43-43 on a Tamar Slay three-pointer with 13:20 left in the game. Ohio could not pull away by any more than 4 points, and Slay once again tied the game up (62-62) with only 2:13 left.
After a timeout, Monty Wright's pass to Slay bounced off Slay's foot and Ohio's Brandon Hunter picked up the ball with only :22 seconds left. Hunter drained three of four free throws, and teammate Steve Esterkamp hit two more, and the Bobcats had the five point win, 71-65.
"We played with energy, and we played together," said Ohio's Brandon Hunter. "We didn't do a lot of stupid things. We just came to play."
The Herd, meanwhile, made only 13-of-25 free throws during the game. "It was a five-point game, and if we make seven of those [free throws], we win by two," summed up J.R. VanHoose. "They only outrebounded us by nine, so that wasn't it."
Ohio's Brandon Hunter was a one-man basketball show. Hunter led all scorers with 27 points and a staggering 22 rebounds. Teammate Sonny Johnson was the only other Bobcat in double figures, with 14 points.
Marshall was led by Tamar Slay's 20 points, while Blackshear (14), Latece Williams (11) and J.R. VanHoose (11) also scored in double figures.
Marshall is now 12-12 overall and 6-8 in the Mid-American Conference.