FINDLAY, Ohio — In its first postseason appearance in eight years, Ohio Dominican's men's basketball team held off a pesky Malone Pioneers squad to earn a 87-74 win in a 2018 Great Midwest Athletic Conference Tournament quarterfinal at Croy Gymnasium Thursday night.
The Panthers (18-10, 12-8 G-MAC) will face the top-seeded Findlay Oilers Friday night at 7:30 p.m. in a Great Midwest Tournament semifinal, with the winner advancing to the conference championship on Saturday at 2 p.m.
With the win, Ohio Dominican earned its first postseason victory in the school's NCAA Division II era and extended its winning streak to six games. ODU is 11-4 in 2018 and has won 10 of its last 11 games.
At 59.6 percent shooting, the Panthers shot their highest field goal percentage for a contest this season and also shot a season-high 59.1 percent from downtown, connecting on 13-of-22 three-point field goals.
Sophomore Sam Hickey (Toledo, Ohio) led the way offensively, exploding for 20 points off the bench on 7-of-14 shooting from the field and 4-of-7 shooting from behind the arc. Sophomore forward Hasan Varence (Queens, New York) tallied 18 points and 11 rebounds, notching his 12th double-double of the season and his seventh in the last nine games. Senior Ronnie Williams (Columbus, Ohio) scored 13 points, while sophomore Ryan Hoyng (Celina, Ohio) added 10 points for the Panthers.
ODU caught fire in the first half, connecting on 10 triples to take a 49-34 lead at the break. The Panthers shot 67.9 percent (19-of-28) in the first half and went 10-of-14 from three-point range, notching 10 assists on 19 made baskets.
Racing out to a 10-0 run in the first two and a half minutes, Ohio Dominican took control early to set the tone. Varence hit a jump shot to start the scoring, then back-to-back three-pointers by senior Shemar Waugh (Columbus, Ohio) and Hoyng pushed the lead to 8-0. Then at the 17:35 mark of the half, Varence slammed home a thunderous dunk on an assist from junior Ben Casanova (Sylvania, Ohio), punctuating the Panthers' start to the game and establishing a 10-0 advantage. The Panthers continued the offensive onslaught throughout the first half, taking a 49-34 lead into the locker room.
Malone came out strong defensively in the second half, contesting shots and holding the Panthers to just five points in the first seven minutes. The Pioneers slowly chipped away at Ohio Dominican's lead throughout the second half, cutting their deficit to just 69-66 with 3:20 to go. But ODU's offense came up big at the right time, scoring 18 points in the final 3:20. With a 69-66 lead, Williams hit a three-pointer on the right wing on an assist from Hickey to push the Panther lead to 72-66 with 2:59 to go. After a Malone basket on the next trip down cut the lead to four, Varence came sprinting down the lane and slammed home a strong, right-handed dunk on an assist from Casanova to bump the lead back to six. ODU hit 11 free throws in the final two minutes, clinching its first postseason win in eight years by a final mark of 87-74.
Ohio Dominican will look forward to its Great Midwest semifinal game on Friday at 7:30 p.m. against No. 11 Findlay.
Contact: Aaron McPherson