Miami’s men’s hoops team (6-9, 1-0) kicked off conference play with a truly epic match, defeating longtime rival Ohio University (7-8, 0-1) 92-88 in a triple-overtime contest Sunday afternoon in Athens. The win snaps a four-game losing streak for the RedHawks.
Miami had four players score in double figures, led by Antonio Ballard’s double-double of 26 points (a career high) and 12 rebounds. It’s his second double-double of the year and fourth of his career. Nick Winbush put up 19 points and 9 rebounds and Julian Mavunga had 15 points and 8 rebounds, barely missing their own double-doubles. Chris McHenry also scored 11 points.
The match went back and forth all day long, with neither team getting a large lead at any time. The ‘Hawks went up early by a 9-2 lead, but the Bobcats came right back, eventually take a 15-14 lead. The two sides traded the lead for the next six minutes before OU went up 29-22 with just under three minutes remaining in the half. But the ‘Hawks went on an 11-4 run to close the half, keyed by three-pointers by McHenry and Ballard. The halftime score was appropriately deadlocked at 33-33.
Miami came out hard out of the gate in the second half, going on a 14-6 run to open the half and take the biggest lead of the game at 47-39. Yet the Bobcats came back once more and the score swung back in their favor. With just under eight minutes left in the half, the Bobcats were ahead 58-54, their biggest lead of the half. Down the stretch, the lead changed or tied seven times. Winbush hit a troika with 4:27 remaining to give Miami a 63-60 lead, but the Bobcats responded with one of their own with 2 minutes to play. Mavunga followed with a layup with 87 seconds left, but a pair of free throws tied the game back up once more. Mavunga launched a three-pointer at the buzzer to win it, but missed, sending the game into an extra period, even at 65-65.
In the first extra period, the Bobcats jumped out to a quick 68-65 lead. Ballard hit a pair of free throws to make it a one-point deficit, and then Winbush was fouled when attempting a three-pointer. When he hit all three free throws, the ‘Hawks had a 70-68 lead. Quickly, the Bobcats tied the score back up, but Mavunga hit 1-of-2 free throws and Quinten Rollins added a layup for a 73-70 lead with 88 seconds remaining. But OU’s D.J. Cooper, who scored a game-high 27 points, hit a three-pointer with 39 seconds left to tie the score (again). Mavunga missed another three at the buzzer to send the game to a second overtime, tied at 73-73.
In the lower-scoring second overtime, the ‘Hawks and ‘Cats traded layups and free throws before Winbush hit a three-pointer for a 79-76 advantage midway through the period. The ‘Hawks wouldn’t score again in the period, but another layup and free throw from OU’s Ivo Baltic (16 points) tied the game back up. Orlando Williams missed a three at the buzzer this time. So the stage was set for a third and final overtime, with the score iced at 79-79.
Free throws remained the name of the game for Miami, as they used them to take a 85-82 lead with two minutes remaining. With less than a minute to play, Baltic tied the game back up at 85-85. But the Bobcats never led in the period. Williams hit a three-pointer to break the tie, and then the ‘Hawks used more free throws to keep the Bobcats at bay. Finally, after nearly three hours of play, the score showed 92-88 Miami.
After the marathon match, Miami unfortunately doesn’t get too much time to rest. The RedHawks will play next against Buffalo (8-5, 0-1) Thursday in Oxford.