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Men's Basketball: ‘Awful’ defense ends Ohio’s winning streak
Ohio’s loss to Robert Morris Saturday could have been considered the Karvel Anderson show. The Colonials’ junior guard hit all 10 of his attempts from the floor — eight of which were from beyond the arc.
He was dominant in the most extravagant sense of the word, carving the Bobcats’ exterior defense for more points (28) than he had minutes in the Colonials’ 84-76 win, their fourth in the teams’ past four meetings.
Their triumph wasn’t defined by Anderson’s hot hand, but by the Bobcats’ overly anxious ones, however — that, and their feet, which were half a step behind for the majority of the game.
Ohio (6-1) coach Jim Christian said it wasn’t Anderson’s three-point bombs that did the Bobcats in, but the Colonials’ commitment to getting to the charity stripe, along with Ohio’s inability to stop them from doing so down the second-half stretch.
The Colonials (4-4) were granted 26 attempts from the free throw line in the second half and made all but five.
The Bobcats converted only eight attempts during that span.
“At the end of the day, they hit 12 threes, and we hit 13,” Christian said. “It was the fouling. Every time we brought the game (within) five or six, we fouled. And it was a position foul; it was an overly aggressive foul — it was silly things.”
In the end, the Colonials cashed in nine more free throws than the Bobcats even attempted Saturday. They also shot 56 percent from the floor and were able to throw together an equation that was just enough to keep the Bobcats from tipping the game in their favor with time winding down.
Ohio trailed by as few as three points with less than two minutes remaining but was done in by a pair of three-pointers before the clock wound down past the one-minute mark.
Unlike their late-game heroics against St. Bonaventure on Wednesday, the Bobcats didn’t have the opportunity to make things happen with less than a minute to play. They had to settle for chasing the Colonials around the court in hopes of a foul call and a few misses from the line.
Ohio redshirt senior guard Walter Offutt said the Bobcats need to figure out a more efficient response to adversity than they showed Saturday, as increasingly tough roads lie ahead.
“We didn’t play (as) well against St. Bonaventure, defensively, as we thought we should,” he said. “Fortunately, we were able to make key plays down the stretch to win the game. That’s what you have to do when you’re in dogfights with good teams like this. You have to make key plays and stop what they’re good at.”
Christian thought he instilled a grasp of what Ohio needed to change at the half, when it trailed by only six after falling behind by as much as 19 earlier on.
It wasn’t Ohio’s offense that was the problem Saturday, as Christian placed the onus on the other side of the ball.
“It had zero to do with offense tonight. Zero,” he said. “If you have 76 points on the road, you should win.”
He noted that Ohio performed adequately in terms of distributing the ball for open looks on offense. The Bobcats also had 12 offensive rebounds, which they converted for 16 second-chance points.
Ohio senior guard D.J. Cooper led the way with the Bobcats’ first double-double of the season — a team-high 19 points and 10 assists — and was supported by Offutt, who had 16 points and eight rebounds in 30 minutes despite being in foul trouble in the second half.
Still, the sticking point for Saturday’s loss will not be the points poured in from the perimeter or the Bobcats’ lack of opportunity with time winding down but the Colonials’ trips to the free throw line and a lacking defensive presence.
Christian summed up the lackluster performance by emphasizing the Bobcats’ shortcomings in maintaining their defensive structure.
“It was some matchups in transition, a step late on a couple closeouts; I thought it was penetration — we sucked the defenders in and they kicked it out — it was the whole thing,” he said. “But it really came down to one-on-one defense. Our one-on-one defense was awful.”