Mike Bekelja (15), Jalen Sullinger (13), and AJ Clayton (23) at the Ohio University vs Kent State University Men's Basketball Game at The Convo in Athens, Feb. 20, 2024.

Mike Bekelja (15), Jalen Sullinger (13), and AJ Clayton (23) at the Ohio University vs Kent State University Men's Basketball Game at The Convo in Athens, Feb. 20, 2024.

Published February 22, 2024

Flashes Fall

Men's Basketball: Miles Brown's late 3-pointers close out Ohio's 63-57 win

By Bobby Gorbett | Sports Editor

The difference between making and missing a singular shot is often the difference between winning and losing in basketball. For Miles Brown and Ohio, that couldn't be more true in the last two games. Against Toledo, Brown missed a late open 3-point shot that would've put Ohio ahead; however, in Ohio's 63-57 win over Kent State, Brown made two crucial 3-pointers to put Ohio over the top for its sixth-straight home win.

It was never easy offensively for Ohio in either half. While the Bobcats had a strong showing in the first nine minutes, scoring 16 points, the team would go on long extended scoring droughts to score just 11 more points in the final 11 minutes of the first half. Ohio's highest scorers, Jaylin Hunter and Shereef Mitchell, were held to a combined 3-11 shooting in the first half, going against a collapsing and physical Kent State defense.

While Ike Cornish stepped up to give the Bobcats 5 points off the bench, the offense as a whole shot just 9-25 from the field in the first half.

Defensively, the Bobcats weren't perfect either. Despite holding the Golden Flashes to 36% shooting in the first half, the Golden Flashes came up with eight offensive rebounds. Led by 6 points from forward AJ Clayton, Ohio began the second half much improved offensively. Ohio also stepped up its act on the glass, with guards like Hunter and Mitchell contributing to boxing out Kent State foes.

"The rebounding was much better in the second half," Boals said. "I thought the second half we were getting clean rebounds and able to get into transition and have some big-time transition points."

Despite that, Ohio players and fans looked up at the scoreboard to see the team still behind. While the Bobcats remained within arm's length, they couldn't quite get over the hump to take the lead.

It wasn't until the team had a big deficit, as it faced in the second half down 50-44, that it was able to sustain a run. Guard Ajay Sheldon started the run, knocking down a 3-point jump shot well beyond the arc to get within 3 points of Kent State's lead. Then Hunter made a difficult mid-range jumper through a foul and a double team, which put him on the free throw line with a chance to tie.

Hunter made his free throw, and Ohio got yet another stop. Mitchell couldn't capitalize on an open look, leading to a Kent State transition opportunity. Racing back on defense, Sheldon was faced with the seemingly impossible task of defending a two-on-one situation. Sheldon made the play look routine, getting into perfect guarding position and rejecting Kent State's layup opportunity.

Ohio capitalized on Sheldon's defensive heroics when taking its first lead since early in the first half with a made free throw from Aidan Hadaway and a mid-range jumper from Hunter with under four minutes to go.

Kent State wouldn't go away, though, and the team even managed to retake the lead with back-to-back scoring trips to break a scoring drought that lasted longer than five minutes. It was then that Brown found himself wide open in the corner off a beautiful feed from Hunter and knocked down a crucial 3-point jumper to give Ohio the advantage.

Ohio created some separation by making free throws from Hadaway after a fast break opportunity. That separation didn't last long, as Kent State guard Jalen Sullinger hit a highly-contested 3-point jumper to bring the score to 58-57. Ohio needed one more score to put the game away, and Brown, the hot hand, knew just where to be when Ohio was able to draw a double team. After the ball was reversed to Sheldon, Brown was open at the top of the key and made his second clutch 3-point jumper to give Ohio a late 4-point lead. Ohio played great defense to close out its 63-57 win.

Hunter and Brown were the two players to make it to double-figures, but it was the defense that ultimately put the team over the top, as it allowed just 57 points on 32% shooting. Given Ohio's recent defensive outings, allowing over 80 points against both Arkansas State and Toledo, this was especially impressive.

When Brown was asked about his late-game heroics, he made his job seem relatively straightforward.

"I think I had the easy part," Brown said. "The first 3 I got was from Hunter, he came off the ball screen and found me wide open in the corner and that's what we've been practicing all week ... The second 3, I think Sheldon gave me the one more pass and I was just wide open again."

Simple or not, Brown's two makes were the difference for Ohio in a game that was even closer than the 6-point margin that Ohio had to end the game.

AUTHOR: Bobby Gorbett

EDITOR: Robert Keegan III

COPY EDITOR: Addie Hedges

PHOTOGRAPHY: Skylar Seavey