Going to Maurice Ndour offensively has its benefits. Buffalo learned that on Saturday, especially in the game's final minutes. Most importantly, with 2.9 seconds left, Ndour snatched Antonio Campbell's Laettner-esque inbounds pass turned, got to the rim and slammed it home with 0.1 left to give Ohio a 63-61 lead, and the win.
Remember, the last time that a play like this happened in a game that he was involved in, Buffalo coach Bobby Hurley was on the winning team.
As the Convocation Center went into a frenzy, the referees checked the monitor and put 0.6 seconds on the clock. The ensuing Jerryn Skeete heave bounced off the rim, and Ohio prevailed.
Ndour wasn't even supposed to take the shot. In the post game presser, Coach Phillips said that Ndour was supposed to pass to Javarez Willis on the wing after the catch, but obviously wasn't upset after Ndour took it to the hoop.
The two teams battled back and forth early, with both teams scrapping and falling all over the place. The crowd was loud from the get-go as Ndour hit early buckets and Rodell Wigginton and Justin Moss cleaned the boards for a huge early Buffalo advantage on the glass. "We did a great job on him (Moss) they were able to get us on the offensive boards."Ndour said.
A double technical (charged to Willis and Shannon Evans) fully exemplified the chippy, battling nature of the first half.
After two Buffalo free throws, Ryan Taylor drained about 10 seconds from the clock, and drove to the paint before dumping a pass off to Ndour underneath the hoop for the deuce with five seconds left. The gimme gave Ohio a 32-31 lead headed into the half.
Ohio came out in the second half and extended its lead quickly before Buffalo went on a run of its own. After a Ryan Taylor pull-up jumper gave Ohio a 37-31 lead, Buffalo went on an 18-6 run. It was shortly thereafter that Ndour went beserk. He scored 15 of Ohio's final 20 points to win the game with Bobcat fans hanging on his every move. His consistent free throw shooting (he came into the game 10th among all MAC players in free throw percentage) proved crucial to the win. Raheem Johnson, who gave Ohio some problems on the glass in the second half, fouled out with 3:08 to go. Two Ndour free throws and a layup gave Ohio a 61-58 lead before Skeete hit a dagger from downtown to tie things up with under a minute remaining. Both Stevie Taylor and Skeete missed chances at go-ahead baskets before a Skeete miss was corralled by Campbell, who called timeout with 2.9 seconds left and what led to be the winning hoop.
"I think our mindset, making tough plays, I think that is something that has really, really, changed in the last couple of games," Phillips said afterwards.
"They're a tough deal with their inside guys with Campbell and then Ndour has thew shot blocking ability to contest the shots at the rim," Coach Hurley said. He later added: "I believe in my team and I think...it's good for us to play games like this that are so competitive and close, and I think it'll benefit us as the year goes on."
Bobby Hurley was visibly peeved after the game, stating that "I was disappointed with the unprofessionalism of the Ohio coach and how far he was allowed to come on to the floor...there was still time on the clock and the game was not over. But, the referees did not do anything with that."
Phillips responded about the comments afterwards. "It was way out of character for me, a fistpump,I gave one fist pump it was a pretty big one," Phillips said. "I told him I was sorry. I did. I got caught up in the moment. Listen, you be 7-10 and how you feel after that play."
|M. Ndour (31)
|Two tied (11)
|A. Campbell (10)
|Two tied (7)
|S. Taylor (3)
|Two tied (3)
|M. Ndour (3)
|R. Taylor (3)
|L. Bearden (3)