Ohio outguns Buffalo 77-74Buffalo's Mitchell Watt (21) dunks the ball in front of Ohio's Ivo Baltic in the first half during an NCAA college basketball game in the Mid-American Conference men's semifinals Friday, March 9, 2012, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
CLEVELAND (AP) D.J. Cooper scored 18 points - 15 on 3-pointers in the first half - and Ohio withstood league MVP Mitchell Watt's strong second half and poor free-throw shooting in the final seconds to beat Buffalo 77-74 on Friday night and move into the Mid-American Conference tournament championship.
The third-seeded Bobcats (26-7), who missed four free throws in the last 25 seconds, will face top-seeded Akron in Saturday night's title game. The winner receives the league's automatic NCAA tournament bid. The schools split their two regular-season games.
Watt scored 21 of his 32 points in the second half and added 11 rebounds for the Bulls (19-10), who missed three potential game-tying 3-pointers in the last nine seconds. The final one, a heave from half court by Jarod Oldham, bounced off the back of the rim.
Reggie Keely added 14 points and T.J. Hall 13 for the Bobcats, who beat Akron in overtime to win the 2010 title.