Cooper’s late three keeps ‘Cats unbeaten

Bobcat fans, this may sound familiar.

D.J. Cooper’s deep three-pointer with 38 seconds remaining put Ohio ahead for good and spurred the Bobcats to a 69-64 victory over St. Bonaventure Wednesday night.

“Me and coach work on that shot every day,” said Cooper. “I stepped up and knocked it down with confidence.”

Jon Smith was an integral part of the Bobcat victory. [Photo by Devin Rhodes]

Cooper’s three ended what was rollercoaster second half for the Bobcats. After leading by eight at halftime, Ohio survived multiple scoring droughts and a 13-0 run by the Bonnies.

With eight minutes remaining in the game, Ohio had seen its lead disappear. They were down three, and had not scored a point in nearly five minutes.

But Nick Kellogg followed a T.J. Hall three pointer with a coast-to-coast lay-up to energize the Convocation Center crowd.

“It’s an opportunity to grow,” said Kellogg of the second-half struggles. “We did enough things to come out on top. We’re thankful for the win.”

St. Bonaventure would answer back at the four-minute mark, with a three pointer from Eric Mosley. Mosley was 6-9 from beyond the arc, and led all scorers with 18 points.

Ohio still trailed by one with 90 seconds remaining in the game. After a big defensive stop, Christian called a timeout to draw up a play.

“Earlier in the game, we got Ivo out top with the same play,” said Christian. “Jon Smith made a phenomenal cut and D.J. found him at the right time.”

Smith took the pass from Cooper and stuffed it with authority to give Ohio a one-point lead. But on the following possession, Chris Johnson would hit a floater in the lane to put the Bonnies ahead once again.

Down one with 30 seconds to play, some coaches may have been upset with Cooper’s shot. Christian wasn’t.

“That’s how we play,” said Christian of the shot. “Whether it’s 30 seconds into the game or 30 seconds to go in the game, that’s a flow play. I see him shoot that shot all the time.”

After a tie-up and a foul on the other end, Cooper was at the line to ice the game. Up to that point, he was 2 of 6 from the free throw line. But Cooper stepped up and easily knocked down the pair.

“The coaches got us calm,” said Cooper. “We were all riled up, and coach just calmed us down.”

Ohio has played lockdown defense all season, and Wednesday night was no different. The Bobcats forced 20 Bonnie turnovers and had nine steals. Aside from his monster dunk, Jon Smith had four blocked shots and three steals, all while guarding a much larger defender in Youssou Ndoye.

Nick Kellogg drives for an easy two vs. St. Bonaventure, Wednesday night. [Photo by Devin Rhodes]

“Jon’s such a cerebral player,” said Christian. “He will come in and watch a lot of film on guys he’s going to play and pick up on their tendencies. He understands what he can bring to the team. He’s a valuable player.”

The Bobcats also played much of the second half in foul trouble. St. Bonaventure was in the double bonus at about the eight minute mark; Cooper, Baltic, Walter Offutt, and Ricardo Johnson all found themselves with more than three fouls.

“They get fouled in the top 50 in the country,” said Christian. “They have really strong, physical, driving guys. We have to do a better job defending them.”

After playing five home games over the span of 13 days, Ohio will face its first road test in Robert Morris Saturday at 7 p.m. Coach Christian said that fatigue could be a factor moving forward.

“I think we played in particular [Kellogg and Cooper] too many minutes,” he said. “You’ve just got to find a way to gut it out.”

While the Bobcats made plenty of little mistakes, Christian is more concerned about the bottom line.

“Every game is a learning lesson, and we found a way to win,” he said. “The only thing you can hope to be after six games is 6-0. You keep improving on the things you did well, and you move on to the next game.”

One thought on “Cooper’s late three keeps ‘Cats unbeaten

  1. Pingback: The MAC Blog: Wally Szczerbiak, surging Ohio, and more. – Speakeasy Magazine

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