Thursday, February 27, 2003

Ohio U. stuns Virginia

Cincinnati products lead Bobcats to upset

The Associated Press

ATHENS, Ohio - Steve Esterkamp from LaSalle High scored a career-high 31 points as Ohio beat Virginia 78-72 Wednesday night in the Cavaliers' first road game against a Mid-American Conference school.

Brandon Hunter, a Withrow High product, added 14 points including five late free throws for the Bobcats (10-14), who had never played a home game against a team from the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Todd Billet and Nick Vander Laan scored 15 points apiece for the Cavaliers (14-12), who lost for the second time in three meetings against the Bobcats.

Ohio students stormed the court of the Convocation Center after their school's biggest victory of the season. The Bobcats, predicted to win the MAC East, have struggled to a 6-9 conference record and fifth place in the six-team division.

Hunter made 5-of-6 free throws over the final 55.7 seconds and the Bobcats got big defensive plays from Delvar Barrett and Thomas Stephens to hold off the Cavaliers.

Barrett forced Virginia forward Elton Brown to airball a fallaway jumper from the baseline and Jaivon Harris made two free throws to give the Bobcats a 75-68 lead.

Trailing 76-70, Billet had his layup attempt blocked from behind by Stephens, who then picked up the loose ball and dribbled down the court.

Hunter was fouled and made two free throws to give the Bobcats an eight-point lead with 7.5 seconds remaining.

The Bobcats made 9-of-10 free throws over the final 1:15 and went 23-of-30 at the foul line in the game. Virginia hit 9-of-13 foul shots.

Travis Watson added 11 points and Devin Smith and Brown had 10 each for the Cavaliers.

Esterkamp, who averages 13.4 points a game, had 19 in the first half as Ohio took a 36-34 lead. He made 5-of-6 3-pointers for the Bobcats, who hit 9-of-15 beyond the arc as a team.

Harris made 4-of-4 3s and added 15 points for the Bobcats, and Barrett scored 10 points.

Virginia beat Ohio 90-71 two seasons ago and lost to the Bobcats 94-83 in the 1994 Preseason NIT.

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