"It's tournament time, win or go home."
David Brown couldn't have said it better following his team's 82-74 victory over Ohio on Monday night. And Brown came to play, having a record setting night in what could've been the sixth-year senior's final game at University Arena. The senior guard finished with 34 points and he tied the arena's three-pointers made record at eight, breaking his own Bronco one.
"He just had that look in his eye," junior forward A.J. Avery said after the game. "He gave me that look and I knew I had to step my game up to match him." Avery helped attempt to keep Maurice N'dour in check, ending up with 4 points, but 6 huge rebounds including 4 on the offensive end.
For the Broncos, it wasn't all good though. In fact, it appeared as if the Ohio of old had showed up early on, as N'dour and Stevie Taylor, the lone remainder from the 2011-12 Bobcat team that went to the Sweet 16, both helped Ohio blow the doors right off their hinges early on with hot shooting, especially from deep. N'dour hit two early attempts, with the second giving the Bobcats an incredible 18-4 lead over the defending champs.
"I just wanted to leave it all out there tonight," Taylor said after the game. N'dour would remain a beast throughout the half, with Taylor as a solid outside supplement, but the rest of the team would settle in. However, this opened the gates for Brown to wake up and turn on his tournament mode. Despite a slow start, Brown would hit three 3-pt shots with fellow senior Austin Richie adding a pair as the Broncos were able to close the gap to 33-31 by the half.
"I just wanted to leave it all out there tonight," Taylor said after the game. "Coach (John) Groce told me there were three seasons, and (tournament season) is the most important." Taylor had 14 points in the first half, while N'dour had 12 and nabbed 7 rebounds to boot.
And it was more of the same to start the second half, as the Bobcats came out on fire again, to the tune of 3-for-5 shooting from beyond the arch to start.
However, after their third three, a Ryan Taylor shot just over four minutes into the half, Ohio went cold from beyond. And while N'dour did his best to keep the Bobcats ahead, David Brown was just about ready to turn it back on.
After a Mike Laster jumper made it 52-44 Ohio, Brown took over. He hit back-to-back three's to tie the game at 52, the first time the game had been tied since the start. He followed that up by hitting a pair of free throws to give the Broncos their first lead.
Over the next five minutes, Brown and freshman point guard Thomas Wilder would match with N'dour and Taylor, with their supporting roles fighting to keep the game in their team's favor. However, after an N'dour slam with 4:54 to go, the Broncos went on an incredible 13-2 run over 3:24 to ultimately put the game out of reach.
In all, Brown's incredible night came on the strength of an incredible second half. Of his 34 final points, he scored 21 in the 2nd half on 5-for-7 shooting including 5-for-6 from beyond the arch and a perfect 6-for-6 from the line. Wilder had 18 points, with 14 coming in the 2nd half on 4-for-5 shooting, including an incredible step-back jumper and fade-away.
N'dour, fittingly, had a double-double in his final collegiate game. He finished with 28 points and 11 rebounds in a losing effort. Taylor finished his career with a 25 point outing. Javarez Willis finished with 9 points on 1-for-9 shooting from beyond the arch, and no other Bobcat had more than 5 points.
The Broncos now will head to Cleveland to face Akron in a rematch of last year's semi-finals. The Broncos could be without Connar Tava, who went down with an apparent ankle injury early in the 1st half, but returned (albeit as a limited factor) later that half.
|Points||D. Brown (34)||M. N'Dour (28)|
|Rebounds||D. Brown (7)
C. Tava (7)
|M. N'Dour (11)|
|Assists||T. Wilder (5)||J. Willis (6)|
|Blocks||A.J. Avery (2)||M. N'Dour (3)|
|Steals||C. Tava (2)
A.J. Avery (2)
|M. N'Dour (2)
J. Willis (2)