With more than a half-dozen scouts in the building to watch talented Marshall guard Taevion Kinsey, it was instead Mark Sears and Jason Carter who turned in NBA-worthy plays.
The Bobcat duo made virtually every big play in the second half and powered Ohio to a 75-65 win over the visiting Thundering Herd in the Convo on Wednesday night. Sears had his third 20-point game of the season with 24, and Carter added 19 points and nine rebounds. The pair combined for 32 of Ohio’s 36 second-half points.
“That’s just playing basketball,” Carter said. “Just taking what the other team gives us.”
Ohio (8-2) is taking no quarter at home this season, and improved to 6-0 on the hardwood in the Roundhouse on Richland. The Bobcats never trailed, led by as many as 16 points in the second half, and held the Herd (7-4) to their lowest point total of the season.
And the talented Mr. Kinsey? He finished with 15 points and seven rebounds – just his second game under 20 this season – on 4 of 18 shooting with 7 turnovers. Backcourt teammate Andrew Taylor had 11 points, seven rebounds, and five assists, but shot just 4 of 14 with six turnovers.
Marshall finished with a season-high 22 turnovers and shot just 37.7 percent from the field.
“We did a great job with our length. For the most part our gaps were really good,” Ohio coach Jeff Boals said. “(Kinsey) really felt us when he drove.
“Those two guys finished 8 of 32. They’re not going to do that in too many games this year.”
Ohio led 47-31 in the early moments of the second half and matched that margin at 59-43 with 9:02 left. But the Herd, who received a big night from Obinna Anochilli-Killen (18 points, nine rebounds, three steals, two blocks), found a way to apply some late-game pressure.
David Early’s 4-point play cut the deficit to seven with 5:38 left. Carter answered the challenge with a pair of free throws and then a thunderous two-handed dunk he turned into a 3-point play.
Marshall made another run, however, and closed to within 68-63 with 1:56 left after Taylor drained a second-chance triple from the top of the key.
This time Sears, then Carter, answered the challenge. Sears hit a step-back 3-pointer from the left side as the shot clock was expiring to make it 71-63.
“It wasn’t the shot I wanted. I originally wanted to get downhill and make a play for me or someone else,” Sears said. “It just happened to be there and I knocked it down with confidence.”
The Herd rushed quickly the other way, and Taylor lofted a floater high toward the box above the rim after a drive down the right side. Carter timed his jump perfectly, and blocked the shot – pinning it against the glass in the process for rebound.
The two-play sequence took a full-fledged comeback off the table.
“First thing I thought of was that LeBron James’ block (in the 2016 NBA Finals) but it definitely wasn’t probably nearly as high as he was,” Carter said. “Was still pretty cool.”
Ben Roderick added 10 points for Ohio, and scored other four points in the second half that neither Sears nor Carter accounted for. The Bobcats made hay at the foul line as well, hitting 24 of 26 with Carter and Sears going a combined 17 of 17.
“You want to close out games that way,” Boals said. “That’s pretty good.”
Ohio set the tone on the game’s first possession when Miles Brown ripped the ball away from Early right after the Herd won the opening tipoff. Each of the Bobcats’ first two buckets came off turnovers, and the 4-0 lead was never relinquished.
“We talked about setting the rules to the game. To get a stop the way we got it from possession one was huge,” Boals said.
Ohio led 13-12 midway through the half, but sprung a 17-7 surge to craft a 30-19 lead. The Bobcats saw seven different players score in the stretch, which was capped by Sears’ 3-pointer from the top of the key. The Bobcats parlayed the run into a 39-28 halftime lead; Kinsey, who entered as the 10th leading scorer in the country, had four points and five turnovers in the half.
“We did a really good job of…switching 1 through 5 today, just containing everybody from getting down hill and throwing lobs,” Carter said. “You try to make it as tough as possible.”
The Herd dumped Ohio last season in Huntington but had no answers for Sears in the rematch one year later. Through 10 games, the sophomore guard is shooting 48.3 percent from 3-point range, 88.9 percent from the foul line, and leads Ohio in scoring.
The Bobcats got a little payback, shook off a clunker of a win on Saturday at Stetson, and now have a full week to get ready to take aim at a 7-0 start in the Convo.
“We didn’t play good (at Marshall in 2020), got kind of embarrassed. Came back here and felt we had a lot of home court advantage,” Sears said. “We’re very dangerous when we play at home.”
Ohio wraps up the non-conference season on Tuesday with a matinee game against USC Upstate in the Convo.