A comeback for the ages as Ohio stuns Buffalo

A week ago, Kaylee Bambule missed a 3-pointer with three seconds left in overtime as her Ohio Bobcats lost an 88-85 decision to visiting Ball State.

Redemption came seven later.

Bambule, a fourth-year junior, bagged a go-ahead 3-pointer from the right corner with 11.4 seconds left as Ohio staged an improbable late fourth-quarter comeback to stun visiting Buffalo, 84-81, in the Convo on Wednesday night.

Ohio’s Kaylee Bambule, seen here earlier this season, hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 11.4 seconds left as Bobcats rallied to beat Buffalo, 84-81 on Wednesday, Jan. 20. Photo courtesy of Ohio Athletics/(Midge Mazur

It was Bambule’s only shot of the night, and capped an incredible finish for the Bobcats (7-4, 5-3 Mid-American Conference), who trailed by 11 with two minutes to go and faced an eight-point deficit with less than a minute left.

“She hung onto that Ball State shot for a long time,” said Ohio coach Bob Boldon, referring to Bambule. “She said she wasn’t going to miss another one.”

Ohio trailed 81-79 with 19.8 seconds left when point guard Cece Hooks retreated into the backcourt to receive the inbounds pass. Hooks, as is her style, attacked ferociously up the floor, got into the lane and dished to the right to an open Bambule.

The shot hit nothing but net, and Ohio led 82-81.

“I knew it was going in,” Bambule said. “It was a practice shot…that was money.”

Buffalo had a chance to win, but Hanna Hall’s runner down the right side rolled off the rim. Hooks collected the rebound. After another Ohio timeout, Hooks scored on a drive off another half-court inbounds set for the three-point lead. The Bulls (8-4, 5-2 MAC) were unable to get a shot off in the final two seconds.

“This is pretty big for us,” said Hooks, who finished with 28 points, seven rebounds, five assists and six steals. “Mentally, we just hung in there.

“We kept fighting.”

Dyaisha Fair had 21 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and four steals for Buffalo, which entered with wins in six of its last seven games. Her steal-and-layup capped a 15-0 run for the Bulls to open the fourth quarter than turned a two-point deficit into a 69-56 lead with 6:28 to go.

Adebola Adeyeye had 16 points, Hall finished with 11, and both Elea Gaba and Cheyenne McEvans added 10 points apiece for Buffalo, which appeared in good shape when Fair scored on another layup with 2:19 left for a 79-68 lead.

The Bobcats then ripped the game back. Buffalo had six turnovers on its next eight possessions as Ohio slapped on a desperation-fueled full-court press. The Bulls also missed two free throws.

Erica Johnson, who had 18 points and seven rebounds, hit a 3-pointer to start Ohio’s game-winning surge. Hooks had two layups in the ending barrage, Caitlyn Kroll added a layup, and freshman Madi Mace (13 points) hit two free throws to pull OU to within 81-79 with 33.4 seconds remaining.

Then Ohio senior Gabby Burris, who had 15 points and eight rebounds, deflected a mid-court, sideline-inbounds pass from the Bulls for a turnover. The last takeaway set the stage for Hooks and Bambule to bring the win home.

“(We did it) by just being gritty,” Bambule said. “We showed we can be just as tough.

“You have to be mentally tough to stay in this kind of ballgame.”

Ten of Buffalo’s 23 turnovers came in the fourth quarter, and Ohio cashed them in for 23 points. It was just the seventh loss in the last 134 games where UB held the lead with five minutes to go.

The Bobcats didn’t shoot it well (37.7 percent) or light it up from 3-point range (9 of 30, 30 percent), and trailed by 10 in the first quarter.

The Bobcats wiped out the deficit in time for a 38-38 halftime time, and led 56-54 entering the fourth. OU needed another run, however, and used an 11-0 spurt over the last 55 seconds to win it.

“You get to the point where your back is against the wall and you just have to do it,” Boldon said of the all-out press late in the game.

“This feels like one of the better team wins in the last two years for us,” he added. “We fought back.”

Ohio will on the road Saturday at Western Michigan (2-7, 1-6 MAC), which one its first conference game of the year on Wednesday by knocking off visiting Miami.

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