Basketball Notebook: Second half effort propels Bobcats past Falcons
Ohio moved to 17-6 overall and 8-1 in MAC play with a 72-63 win against Bowling Green Saturday. Read our chronological coverage of the game below.
It's been more than three weeks since Ohio took the court for game action at The Convo.
The Bobcats went 3-1 during that span, but welcomed the return to their home floor with welcome arms as they prepared to take on Bowling Green Saturday.
"It feels like we haven’t been here in a year," Ohio coach Jim Christian said. "When you play four-straight games on the road, that’s not easy to do. I don’t care what league you’re in, I don’t care who you’re playing, I don’t care where they are and I don’t care what their records are — it’s hard to do."
Ohio (16-6, 7-1 Mid-American Conference) will be pitted against a Bowling Green (9-13, 4-5 MAC) team that doesn't particularly thrive on the offensive end, but ranks second in the conference in defensive play.
The Falcons are led by senior forward A'uston Calhoun, whose 15.5 points per game are fifth-best among MAC players. He also ranks third in rebounding with 7.8 grabs per game.
Ohio senior forward Reggie Keely said to keep Calhoun off the stat sheet he will have to limit his touches under the basket and make him work for positioning while driving the lane.
Senior guard Jordon Crawford averages more than four assists per game and also puts up an average of 15.4 points per night.
The Bobcats are looking for their second-straight win, as they blew out Ball State Wednesday.
The Bobcats permitted the Cardinals only 26.5 percent shooting on the night, which was a season-low for an Ohio opponent.
"We were probably as focused in on (defense) as we’ve been in a while," Christian said. "That was good to see."
For the second-straight game, Ohio's starting five consisted of junior forward T.J. Hall, senior forward Reggie Keely, and guards Walter Offutt, a redshirt senior, D.J. Cooper, a senior, and Nick Kellogg, a junior.
Keely opened the game's scoring on an inside feed from Cooper, following up a miss from each team.
Ohio's next scoring came from Cooper, who was the benefactor of an Offutt steal and lob across center court.
The Falcons again tied the game, though, three minutes in when Calhoun tacked a free-throw onto the back end of an and-one layup.
A similar play by Keely gave Ohio the lead on its next trip down the floor, and Offutt improved the margin to 10-4 with a three-pointer on the next play.
The Bobcats led 10-6 at the first media timeout, during which senior forward Ivo Baltic checked into the game.
Calhoun and Cooper traded twos coming out of the stoppage, moving the score to a 12-12 tie.
Ohio sophomore guard Stevie Taylor, redshirt junior forward Jon Smith and junior guard Travis Wilkins checked in after the teams traded baskets once more.
Baltic was largely unsuccessful in his appearance, as he missed an open dunk and put a turnaround jumper short of the rim.
The Bobcats led 17-14 with 11:30 to play in the half in part because of a coast-to-coast and-one layup from Taylor.
After the timeout, Baltic hit a long two for the Bobcats, which was offset by the Falcons' second dunk of the occasion.
Wilkins pushed Ohio's lead to eight on a three-pointer at the 10-minute mark, which Calhoun equalized less than a minute later.
Junior guard Ricardo Johnson had made his first appearance by that point.
Free throws from Smith and Johnson kept Ohio's lead at six, however.
Crawford cut the lead to a single point with a three and step-back two leading into the six-minute mark.
After a Bowling Green alley-oop dunk, Cooper drained a deep three to put the Bobcats ahead four with less than five minutes to play in the half. A Baltic two from the top of the key extended their lead to six soon thereafter.
The Falcons fought back, though, and their second alley-oop of the game brought them within one with 2:21 to play in the half.
They ended the first half by grabbing a pair of offensive rebounds, the second of which was converted for two points, before Taylor missed a three with time ticking down.
Halftime: Ohio 35, Bowling Green 34
After leading by as much as seven points in the first half, the Bobcats went into the break ahead by one.
The Bobcats never trailed in the first half, and were led offensively by Cooper, who had seven points and four assists. Keely had six points and as many rebounds, which led all players.
Baltic had six points of his own and three rebounds.
Crawford had 10 points, three rebounds and three assists, while sophomore forward Richaun Holmes had eight points and Calhoun had seven.
Bowling Green scored 11 points off Ohio's seven turnovers, while the Bobcats converted the Falcons' miscues into only two points.
The Falcons also doubled Ohio's points in the paint, scoring 20.
The Falcons tied the game coming out of the break on a free throw, but slipped to a four-point deficit three minutes into the half.
Hall hit a three to open the lead to seven with 16 minutes to play, prompting Bowling Green to use a full timeout.
After a Bowling Green basket, Keely kept the Bobcats' lead at seven with a layup, and Hall extended the lead with a steal-and-layup combination at the 15-minute mark.
Ohio's lead grew to 11 on an offensive-rebound-and-putback from Smith, who cleaned up a Wilkins miss with 12:30 to play.
With nine minutes remaining in the game, Taylor had perhaps one of the prettiest plays of the game. He picked up a loose ball pried free by Smith, ran the length of the court and scored on an up-and-under layup.
The Bobcats led by 10 at that point.
Offutt hit a three with seven minutes on the clock to keep the score at that margin.
He was escorted from the floor a minute later, though, as he was cut above his eye after taking a charge near the Bobcats' three-point line.
The Falcons cut Ohio's lead to nine at the 3:30-mark, but the Bobcats continued to produce offensively.
Keely poured in four-straight points heading into the game's final three minutes to bump the Bobcats' lead back to 13.
Tensions began to mount with 2:30 to play, when Cooper swiped a steal from Crawford and both were whistled for technical fouls because of their post-play trash talk.
Each bench was also assessed a technical foul.
After a pair of Cooper free throws, the Bobcats broke the 70-point barrier and improved their lead to 16 points.
Calhoun scored a three-point play with 44 seconds remaining, and Bowling Green hit a layup with less than 10 second on the clock to conclude scoring.
Final: Ohio 72, Bowling Green 63
Bad blood boiled in the post-game handshake line, as Crawford and Cooper, among others had words with one another.
Tension aside, the Bobcats' second-half effort separated them from the Falcons, despite leading by only one heading into the half.
Keely: 15 points, 10 rebounds
Hall: 12 points, four steals, three rebounds
Offutt: 12 point, three rebounds
Cooper: 10 points, eight assists
Calhoun: 19 points, eight rebounds,
Crawford: 17 points, four rebounds, four assists
Holmes: Eight points, two rebounds
Sealy: Eight points, 12 rebounds
"When you’re in mid-February, you have to find a lot of different ways to win games and I thought tonight in the second half our defense grinded out some turnovers, got the ball out in transition a little bit." — Christian
"We didn’t come out with too much energy, and you have to pick it up in the second half, both offensively and defensively." — Keely, on Ohio's first half effort
"It’s just late in the conference. Everybody wants to win, both teams. We’re going for the same thing, seeding, so nobody likes to lose and I feel like they got a little bit of chippiness at the end. It happens." — Cooper, on second half emotions
Ohio will hit the road again this coming week, as it will travel to Mount Pleasant, Mich. to take on Central Michigan Wednesday. The Chippewas (9-13, 2-7 MAC) were set to play Kent State Saturday at 7 p.m.