Coming off back-to-back road losses, the Ohio men’s basketball team seemed to regain their confidence on Saturday afternoon.
An inspired performance from Walter Offutt earned the Bobcats a resounding 78-61 victory over Summit League opposition Oakland in the Convocation Center, Saturday afternoon.
With the win, the Bobcats improved their record to 7-2 and ended a two-game losing streak. Ohio also improved their home-court winning streak to an impressive 16 games.
Offutt led the Bobcats with 14 points on 6-of-10 shooting. He also dished out three assists and collected three rebounds. D.J. Cooper had another strong showing for the ‘Cats, scoring ten points on 4-of-10 shooting, and dished out 13 assists; exactly as many as the Golden Grizzlies had as a team.
Christian spoke about the team’s performance in front of their home fans.
“I am really proud of our resilience today,” he said. “From an offensive standpoint, it was the best possession by possession execution we have had all season.”
Travis Bader led all scorers with 29 points for the Golden Grizzlies. He was 8-of-18 from the field, including 7-of-12 from behind the three-point line. He also grabbed five rebounds. The Bobcats were able to keep 6-10 center Corey Petros in-check. Petros scored eight points and had five rebounds.
Cooper spoke about the team’s defense against the size of Oakland.
“We came out with hunger tonight,” he said. “Coach (Christian) told us in practice not to let the big guys beat us down low and get easy buckets.”
In the beginning of the contest, Ohio knew it was going to have its hands full with Bader. The Okemos, Michigan native scored his team’s first ten points of the game to give his team a 10-4 lead with five minutes gone in the first half.
Bader hit two free throws to cut Ohio’s lead to one, 26-25, with 2:56 left in the half, and Offutt exploded to end the half.
The Indianapolis native got fouled on a successful slam dunk to electrify the crowd, and made the ensuing free throw to give the Bobcats a 29-25 lead. His late three-point basket propelled the Bobcats to a 39-29 half-time lead.
The Bobcats held the Golden Grizzlies to 38.5% shooting in the first half (10-of-26). Ohio out-scored Oakland 22-6 in the paint, and Ohio’s bench contributed ten points, while Oakland’s bench did have a single point.
In the second half, Oakland (3-7) kept the game within striking distance. Three straight dunks from Raphael Carter handed Oakland a 53-50 lead with 12:11 left to play in the game.
With half of the second half already gone, Ohio was up 56-55, and Bader had 27 points. Christian was looking for a way to contain him, and his answer was on the bench.
Ricardo Johnson only had seven points and five rebounds, but his defensive presence and energy allowed Ohio to shut Bader down and race by the Golden Grizzlies.
Offutt had high praise for the junior guard from Kentucky.
“(Ricardo) practices hard every day,” he said. I have no doubt in my mind that he will continue to be a great player for this team in the future. He slowed down (Travis) Bader and got rebounds and steals when we needed it.”
An Ivo Baltic thunderous dunk and Johnson three-point play capped off a back-breaking 18-0 run for Ohio, and they were able to coast for the remaining of the game.
“We never lost confidence,” Cooper said of the team’s morale. “It feels good to get a nice win in the Convo against a good Oakland team.”
Ohio finished the game shooting 50.8% from the field (31-of-61) and held Oakland to 40.4% shooting from the field (21-of-52). The ‘Cats were out-rebounded 32-31, but outscored Oakland’s bench 34-12.
The Ohio men’s basketball team will have a week off before they host the Winthrop Eagles on Saturday, December 15 at the Convocation Center. Tip-off is set for 2 p.m.