The Ohio Bobcats found a way to survive and advance on Saturday night, riding on a a prayer en route to a first-round victory over the Rice University Owls in Daytona Beach, Florida, triumphing by a final score of 65-63.
It was sophomore Mark Sears who found himself with the ball at game’s end, driving down the court to sink a layup with the clock down to triple zeroes, with his hero shot securing Ohio’s ticket to the second round of the 2022 College Basketball Invitational.
The Bobcats started the game with a 6-0 lead, one which they would extend to 14-4 with over 11 minutes left in the first half. Rice came back with a fury, tying the game at 24-24 with a long run of their own in the first stanza, but ultimately, it was the Bobcats who would find themselves ahead by one at the half.
The Bobcats would start the second half by leading the Owls by four points. Both teams exchanged runs, with Ohio getting their lead out to as high as 10 points with 5:24 remaining on a Ben Roderick three-point shot. The Bobcats went cold from there, and the Owls took advantage, taking the lead on a Travis Evee two-point jumper with just 1:05 remaining.
Ohio picked up four more points after that, getting their three-point lead back on a pair of Ben Vander Plas free throws, before back-to-back two-pointers by Carl Pierre set up the game-ending scramble to decide who advanced with just over two seconds remaining.
The Bobcats were led in scoring by fifth-year senior Jason Carter with 26 points. He would get a double-double by adding 12 rebounds to his tally. Rice was led by Carl Pierre with 20 points and eight rebounds.
The Bobcats will face the winner of Troy and Abilene Christian on Monday in Daytona Beach, with coverage exclusively on FloHoops.