COLUMBUS, Ohio — Riding a five-game winning streak and having won nine of its last 10 games, Ohio Dominican's men's basketball team begins its 2018 postseason with a Great Midwest Athletic Conference Tournament quarterfinal game against Malone at the University of Findlay on Thursday at 8:30 p.m.
The Panthers (17-10, 12-8 G-MAC) enter the conference tournament as the five-seed and would advance to the conference semifinals on Friday at 7:30 p.m. with a win over the fourth-seeded Pioneers (19-9, 12-8 G-MAC). No. 14 and top-seeded Findlay and eighth-seeded Kentucky Wesleyan will face the winner of the ODU/Malone matchup in the second round of the tournament.
Ohio Dominican is uncharted territory in its NCAA Division II era, making its first postseason appearance since the 2010 season and its first as an Division II member. With 17 wins, the Panthers are in the midst of their most successful season since a 19-11 finish in 2007-08. At five-straight wins, Ohio Dominican is just two shy of tying a program record for consecutive victories, and the Panthers' five-game winning streak to end the regular season ties a program record for wins to conclude the regular season that was originally set during the 2007-08 campaign.
With 28.7 defensive rebounds per game, ODU ranks second in the Great Midwest and 15th in the nation in defensive boards per contest. The Panthers also rank in the top three of the Great Midwest in three-point field goal percentage (38.2 percent), field goal percentage defense (41.1 percent), three-point field goal percentage defense (31.8 percent) and assists per game (16.1).
ODU boasts a balanced scoring attack, with four Panthers averaging in double figures. Sophomore forward Hasan Varence (Queens, New York) leads the team with 14 points and 9.7 rebounds per contest. Varence has posted 11 double-doubles this season and comes in at third in the G-MAC in rebounding. Fellow sophomore Sam Hickey (Toledo, Ohio) is scoring 12.3 points per contest on 39 percent shooting from three-point range. Senior Ronnie Williams (Columbus, Ohio) is also a lethal threat from behind the arc, averaging 11.1 points per game on 42.6 percent shooting from downtown. Williams hit a career-high eight triples in the Panthers' last outing against Davis & Elkins. Senior point guard Shemar Waugh (Columbus, Ohio) scores 10.5 points per game while boasting an assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.28 that ranks third in the conference.
The Panthers have also seen key contributions from their bench this season. ODU's bench has outscored its opponents in 22 games this season and when that happens, Ohio Dominican is 16-6. The Panthers post a 16-3 record when they shoot better than their opponents, and when the squad connects on 50 percent or more of its field goals, ODU is 9-0.
All 2018 Great Midwest Athletic Conference Tournament games will be played at the University of Findlay. Audio for Thursday's game between Ohio Dominican and Malone will be available at PressBoxProductions.net.
Contact: Aaron McPherson