COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio Dominican men's basketball team defeated Lake Erie by a final mark of 81-77 in overtime in Alumni Hall on Thursday night, clinching a berth in the 2018 Great Midwest Athletic Conference Tournament.
ODU (15-10, 10-8 G-MAC) has won seven of its last eight games and has earned victories in all three overtime games it's played in this season. Fifteen wins on the season marks the first time since the 2008-09 campaign for the Panthers to reach the 15-win mark, and Ohio Dominican will compete in postseason play for the first time since February 2010.
The Panthers held a 69-58 lead with 3:27 to go, but Lake Erie went on a 12-1 to close regulation and send the game into overtime with the score tied at 70 through 40 minutes of play.
The crucial basket came with 44 seconds left in overtime. With the score tied at 74, Ohio Dominican sophomore guard Sam Hickey (Toledo, Ohio) caught the ball on the left wing on a pass from sophomore forward Hasan Varence (Queens, New York). Varence set a solid screen on Hickey's defender, and Hickey used the pick to perfection, stepping up and drilling a three-pointer to put ODU in front, 77-74 with 48 ticks left on the clock.
Two free throws for the Panthers and a made basket on the other end by Lake Erie resulted in ODU holding a 79-76 lead with two seconds remaining. The Panthers fouled to put Lake Erie's Gabe Kynard at the free throw line. Kynard made the first and missed the second to try and come up with an offensive rebound and tying basket, but Varence boxed out on the left block and secured the rebound, hitting two free throws on the other end with 0.9 seconds remaining to ice the game and earn the win, 81-77 (OT).
A massive 40-17 advantage in bench points was key to victory for the Panthers. ODU also outrebounded the Storm 47-29, pulling down 11 offensive rebounds.
Varence notched his 10th double-double of the season in the contest with 22 points and 13 rebounds. Key off the bench for the Panthers was sophomore Michael Scott (Hebron, Kentucky), who finished with seven points, a team-high six assists and four rebounds in a career-high 23 minutes. Senior Mike DeLeon (Powell, Ohio) also finished with a double-double, recording 11 points and 10 rebounds. Hickey scored 11 points off the bench for Ohio Dominican.
The Panthers will look to finish the regular season strong with home games against Alderson Broaddus and Davis & Elkins next week before preparing for the Great Midwest quarterfinals on Thursday, March 1.
Contact: Aaron McPherson