Kaminski Lifts Ohio Basketball To Thrilling 2017 @MACSports Tournament Quarterfinal Victory Over Toledo

By Published: 3/10/2017 12:57:25 AM Custom Tag

Courtesy: Ohio Athletics

Redshirt senior forward hits jumper with seven seconds left to send Bobcats to league tournament semifinals for a second-straight season.

CLEVELAND -- With seven seconds left, redshirt senior forward Kenny Kaminski (Medina, Ohio) hit a jumper at the top of the key to lift the No. 2-seeded Ohio men's basketball team (20-10, 11-7 MAC) to a 67-66 win over No. 7-seeded Toledo (17-16, 9-9 MAC) in the 2017 Mid-American Conference Tournament presented by VisitMyrtleBeach.com Quarterfinal on Thursday (March 9) at Quicken Loans Arena.

The Bobcats punched their ticket to the MAC Tournament Semifinal for the second year in a row and earned their second-straight 20-win season and eighth since 2004-05. Ohio will take on No. 6-seeded Kent State (20-13, 10-8 MAC) on Friday (March 10) in a nationally televised 8 p.m. ET semifinal matchup on CBS Sports Network. The Bobcats split the 2017 regular season series with the Golden Flashes, posting an 85-67 victory at the Convocation Center in Athens on Jan. 6 but suffering a 70-67 setback on Feb. 25 at the M.A.C. Center in Kent, Ohio. Kent State reached the MAC Tournament Semifinal by way of a 116-106 overtime first-round home win over No. 11-seeded Central Michigan on Monday (March 6) and a 68-65 quarterfinal upset victory over No. 3-seeded Buffalo on Thursday at The Q.

"Felt pretty Marchy out there," said third-year head coach Saul Phillips. "Really, really gutty effort. We felt pretty good going in at the half. I think (redshirt junior guard) Jaaron (Simmons) really sparked us with his defense late in the first half. I think the rest of the team responded."

Ohio matched its biggest comeback of the 2016-17 season after trailing by 15 with just over four minutes remaining in the first half.

Simmons put the Bobcats on his back, scoring a game-high 24 points off of 10-of-17 shooting from the field and a 3-of-4 effort from the charity stripe. The 2017 First Team All-MAC selection also added a team-high four assists as well as four rebounds over 39 minutes of work. He tallied his team-high seventh game this year with at least 20 points.

Freshman forward Jason Carter (Johnstown, Ohio) tallied his second-straight double-double and sixth of the season with 19 points and a game-high 12 rebounds. He also posted a block and a steal in 32 minutes of action. His double-double marks the first by an Ohio freshman in the MAC Tournament since forward Leon Williams tallied 29 points and 15 rebounds in the Bobcats' 80-79 overtime victory over Buffalo in the 2005 MAC title game.

Kaminski went 4-of-8 from the field -- including his game-winning jumper -- to finish with nine points, He also contributed a game-high three steals as well as a block in 28 minutes.

"Jaaron and I came in three years ago with a dream, and we had promised each other that we're going to do everything we possibly can to get this group of guys in the NCAA tournament," said Kaminski. "We kind of had some struggle there throughout the game and faced some adversity, but at the end of the day, Jaaron was able to find me the ball, and I was able to make a big shot."

Toledo held a 32-17 lead with 3:36 to play in the first half after a layup by senior forward Steve Taylor, Jr. The Rockets built up the advantage thanks in large part to five three-pointers -- including a pair of triples by redshirt freshman forward/center Luke Knapke.

The Bobcats staged a rally over the final three minutes of the half, though. Simmons provided Ohio with five points, junior guard Mike Laster (Detroit, Mich.) hit a triple and Carter made a layup at the buzzer to trim Toledo's lead down to eight at 37-29 at the halftime break.

Ohio picked up where it left off with a 12-0 run over the first five minutes of the second half. Carter highlighted the stretch with six-straight points -- including a dunk that put the Bobcats up four at 41-37 with 16:14 to play.

Senior guard Jonathan Williams hit a three to cut Ohio's lead down to one with just over 14 minutes remaining, but three-pointers by sophomore guard/forward Gavin Block (Lincoln, Ill.), Laster and Kaminski gave the Bobcats a game-high eight-point lead at 50-42 with just under 11 minutes to go.

The Rockets were given a boost by senior guard Jordan Lauf over the ensuing over the next five-plus minutes with 10 points -- including a pair of threes and a layup that tied the contest at 58-all with just over five minutes remaining.

Ohio went back up by three after a layup by Carter, but Williams made a layup with 2:24 to go to cut the Bobcats' lead back down to one. Simmons answered with a layup of his own on the enusing trip down the court, forcing Toledo to burn a timeout with 1:42 left.

Sophomore forward Nate Navigato swung the momentum back in favor of the Rockets, though, by drilling a triple with 48 seconds left on the clock. Ohio used a timeout, but the Bobcats turned the ball over on their next possession as Williams scored a layup off of his own steal, giving Toledo a 66-64 edge with 23 ticks remaining.

Carter drew a foul on Ohio's next possession and made the first free throw but missed the second, allowing Taylor, Jr. to come up with the rebound for the Rockets and forcing the Bobcats to foul. Fortunately for Ohio, Taylor, Jr. missed the front end of the one-and-one free throw and Carter grabbed the Bobcats' biggest board of the season, setting the table for Kaminski's game-winning jumper on the other end of the floor. Williams managed to get up an attempted layup with two seconds left, and Lauf put up a jumper after coming up with the offensive board on Williams' miss, but both potential go-ahead shots were off the mark for the Rockets.

"Last play of the game, we did a good job of trying to keep Jonathan Williams off his right hand, but I thought the biggest play there was Jason Carter's help," said Phillips. "I thought he came over and walled up nicely outside of the restricted area, and I thought that one-footed attempt was going in at the end with Lauf. That would have been a fitting way to end his career, or toward the end of his career, as he's just a scrappy guy. But, we got the stop, and I don't like to pack my bags. I like that."

Williams led Toledo with 18 points off of 6-of-16 shooting from the field -- including a 3-of-8 effort from beyond the arc -- as well as a 3-of-4 performance from the charity stripe. He also tallied two rebounds, two assists and a steal in 35 minutes.

Lauf went 5-of-6 from the field with a pair of treys to finish with 12 points for the Rockets. He also grabbed a rebound in 17 minutes of action.

Sophomore guard Jaelan Sanford tallied 11 points, a game-high tying five assists, two rebounds and a steal in 37 minutes of work for Toledo.

Taylor, Jr., and Knapke both nearly recorded double-doubles for the Rockets. Taylor, Jr., recorded nine points, 10 rebounds and a game-high tying five assists over 30 minutes. Knapke posted eight points, 10 boards and two assists in 31 minutes.

The Bobcats are now 6-1 (.857) all-time in MAC Tournament action against Toledo courtesy of Thursday's quarterfinal victory.
Published: 3/10/2017 12:57:25 AM Custom Tag