CINCINNATI, Ohio– Despite a late push midway through the second half, the Ohio men's basketball team (5-3) was unable to hold off Xavier (6-3) Wednesday night (Dec. 5), falling to the Musketeers, 82-61, inside the Cintas Center.
"We showed some potential," fifth-year head coach Saul Phillips said following the game. "We had too many turnovers. We were right in the game and then we had three-consecutive turnovers against their zone. They do a good job of creating them, but I also think we can do a better job at protecting the basketball. That was really the turning point, and from there we were playing catchup."
Leading the Bobcats was redshirt sophomore Jason Carter (Johnstown, Ohio), who scored 17 points, going 6-of-12 from the field, 1-of-1 from three-point range and 4-of-6 from the free throw line. Sophomore guard Teyvion Kirk (Joliet, Ill.) finished the game with 11 points, going 4-of-11 from the field, 1-of-2 from beyond the arc and 2-of-4 from the free throw line, while grabbing a team-high six rebounds and dishing out four assists. Senior forward Doug Taylor (Columbus, Ohio) finished the game with nine points and two blocks, while freshman guard Jason Preston (Orlando, Fla.) finished with nine points, going 4-for-4 from the field.
Xavier would open the game with a three-pointer before Kirk would hit two free throws to bring the game within one. Xavier would go on to take a 15-3 lead before Carter would get the Bobcats' first field goal, making the score 15-5 at the 16:21 mark.
Xavier would take a 13-point lead before back-to-back three pointers by junior guard Antonio Cowart, Jr. (McComb, Miss.) and a layup by Kirk would pull the Bobcats within five with 13:17 left. Moments later, redshirt freshman forward Ben Vander Plas (Ripon, Wis.) would cut the Xavier lead to 18-16. Xavier would then go on an 8-0 run to take a 27-18 lead Taylor would break the run with a dunk with 7:58 left in the first half.
The Taylor dunk would spark an 8-0 run for the Bobcats that would cut the Musketeers' lead to 27-26 with 6:18 left in the half. After two free throws by Carter, senior forward/guard Gavin Block (Lincoln, Ill.) would connect on a layup as he fell to the ground, giving Ohio its first lead of the game. A jumper by Kirk would give Ohio a three-point lead with 1:16 left, before Xavier would connect on their last two baskets to put the Musketeers up 35-34 going into the half.
Carter led the Bobcats in the first half with 11 points and four rebounds, followed by Kirk with eight points and four boards and Cowart with six points.
In the first half, the Bobcats shot 50.0 percent from the field, 37.5 from three-point range and 83.3 percent from the free throw line, while Xavier shot 46.9 percent from the field, 35.7 percent from three-point range and did not make either of their free throw attempts. Xavier outrebounded the Bobcats 18-13, however the Bobcats dished out seven assists to Xavier's six. The Bobcats also grabbed seven steals to the Musketeer's five, while both teams recorded one block apiece.
The Bobcats would force an early turnover to start the second half, setting up a three by Preston to give Ohio the 37-35 lead. However, Xavier would get the basket right back, going on a 6-0 run to take a 44-39 lead with 16:41 remaining. Two made free throws from Block would cut the Xavier lead to two with 13:33 left. Xavier would retake a five-point lead before Carter drained a three, making the score 52-50, in favor of Xavier, with just under 13 minutes to play.
After Xavier would go on to stretch the lead to four once again, a Taylor dunk would pull the Bobcats within two with 10:47 remaining. However, after a free throw by Carter would make the score 59-55 with 8:55 left, Xavier would go on a 6-0 run, giving the Musketeers a 10-point advantage with 7:04 to go.
The Bobcats would cut the Xavier lead to five points with just over six minutes to go, but that would be as close as Ohio would get. The Musketeers would go on a 15-0 run to put the game out of reach for the Bobcats, ultimately taking the game by the final of 82-61.
Overall, the Bobcats finished the game shooting 46.0 percent (23-of-50) from the field, 37.5 percent (6-of-16) and 60.0 percent (9-of-15) from the free throw line, while Xavier shot 57.4 percent (31-54) from the field, 42.1 percent (8-of-19) form the field and 66.7 percent (12-of-18) from the free throw line. The Musketeers outrebounded the Bobcats 33-23 and dished out 16 assists compared to Ohio's 13. The Bobcats however did collect 10 steals to Xavier's eight, while Both teams had two blocks each. The Bobcats forced Xavier to turn the ball over 16 times, scoring 19 points off of them, while Xavier scored 25 points off of Ohio miscues.
"We got back to what we came here to do inside the paint and to defend the way that we defend," Taylor said on the slow start. "We got away from it in the first four minutes and in the last six minutes. We just need to be more consistent and we should be okay."
Up next, the Bobcats return to Athens for their final game inside the Convocation Center before the holiday break on Saturday, Dec. 8 when Ohio faces off against Radford. Tip-off is set for 3:30 p.m. The game will be the second game of a doubleheader and will follow the women's basketball team's game against Coppin State that is set to being at 1 p.m.