ATHENS, Ohio– Despite a last-minute comeback effort, the Ohio men's basketball team (11-12, 3-7 MAC) fell to Eastern Michigan (11-13, 5-6 MAC), 66-57, Tuesday night (Feb. 12) inside the Convocation Center.
"With the start we got off too, I felt we showed good focus and good energy," fifth-year head coach Saul Phillips said. "We were finding gaps in the zone early on. They're hands and activity on the ball with deflections and little things, that made a difference. I didn't' think we necessarily pass faked well enough for big chucks of the game and you need to do that against the zone that is as active as Eastern's. I thought we passed up some shots. I thought our decision making of when to take the shot, I thought we were too conservative. We need to step up and take the kill shot once and awhile."
Leading Ohio was redshirt sophomore forward Jason Carter (Johnstown, Ohio) who scored 18 points, going 1-of-17 from the field, 1-of-4 from three-point range and 3-of-3 from the free throw line. She also grabbed four rebounds and dished out four assists. Sophomore guard Teyvion Kirk (Joliet, Ill.) also had 18 points. Going 8-of-11 from the field, while grabbing six rebounds and dishing out four assists. Freshman forward Ben Vander Plas (Ripon, Wis.) scored nine points and grabbed five boards, while senior forward Doug Taylor (Columbus, Ohio) scored six points and had three blocks.
Taylor started the Bobcats scoring with a second-chance layup three minutes into the game. The Bobcats would then go on a 12-0 run to open the game with a 10-0 lead before Eastern Michigan would get on the board with two free throws, cutting the Bobcats' lead to 12-2 with 13:49 left in the half. After a dunk from James Thompson IV, Taylor would give Ohio a 10-point lead once again with another layup. However, EMU would go on a 7-0 run to cut the Bobcats' lead to three with 9:50 left. However, Carter would drain a jumper, putting Ohio up five. EMU would then get a three and a dunk to tie the game at 16-16 with 8:29 left.
Ohio would go on to retake the lead with a Carter and-one, putting the Bobcats up 19-16. Ohio and EMU would trade baskets over the next few minutes before a three-pointer from Kirk would give the Bobcats a 24-22 lead. However, Eastern would go on a 9-0 run to close out the final two minutes of the half, sending the teams to the locker room with Ohio trailing 31-24.
At the half, Ohio shot 48 percent from the field, 14 percent from three-point range and 33 percent from the free throw line, while EMU shot 41 percent from the field, 23 percent from three-point range and 75 percent from the free throw line. EMU out-rebounded the Bobcats 16-12, while Ohio dished out nine assists to the Eagle's six. The Bobcats also recorded one steal and one block, while EMU recorded six steals and had three blocks.
Vander Plas would open the second half up with a three-pointer, cutting the EMU lead to 31-17. After EMU would get a layup, a second-chance put back jumper would cut the Eagles' lead to four once again, however, five points from EMU would give the Eagles a 38-29 lead entering the first media timeout.
After EMU would go up 12, senior guard/forward Gavin Block (Lincoln, Ill.) would drain a three, however, the Eagles would go on an 11-0 run to take a 52-32 lead with 10:36 left. The Bobcats would cut the lead to 15 with a layup from Kirk and a three from junior guard Antonio Cowart, Jr. (McComb, Miss.). The Bobcats would keep trying to cut into the Eagles' lead, but EMU would keep the lead at 20, until around the 2:34 mark, where the Bobcats offense would suddenly come alive and claw the Bobcats back into the game.
The run would start with a layup and a free throw from Kirk and a three from Carter. Vander Plas would then drain back-to-back threes before Kirk would record a layup, cutting the lead to 64-57 with 29 seconds left. Unfortunately, the Bobcats would be unable to climb the whole way back, as EMU would hit free throws down the stretch, taking the game by the final of 66-57.
"They adjusted well and we did not," Block said. "We got complacent and they amped up the pressure a little bit and they're really long, so credit to them. We didn't hit the kill shot, I guess you could say. We were not the aggressors."
Overall, Ohio shot 41.8 percent from the field, 25.0 percent from three-point range and 66.7 percent from the free throw line. The Eagles out-rebounded the Bobcats 31-30, while the Bobcats dished out 18 assists, had one steal and three blocks to EMU's 14 assists, 10 steals and three blocks. The Bobcats also scored 30 points in the paint and had 14 second chance points.
For EMU, Elijah Minnie scored 19 points, going 8-og-17 from the field, 3-of-9 from three-point range and grabbed six rebounds. Thompson IV scored 18 points and grabbed 15 rebounds, while Paul Jackson added 10 points, seven rebounds and seven assists.
Up next, the Bobcats head to Mount Pleasant, Mich. to take on Central Michigan on Saturday, Feb. 16. Tip-off is set for 4:30 p.m.