After a devastating, double overtime home loss to Akron just three days ago, Ohio (12-4,2-1 MAC) bounced back with a dominating win over Ball State (3-11, 0-3 MAC), 71-51, in what would turn out to be a tale of two halves.
The first half was nothing to be proud of, as both teams struggled in almost all aspects of the game. Whether it was poor shooting, turnovers or foul trouble, neither team could get anything going in the first 20
minutes of action. Stats weren’t too kind either, as both teams combined for 48 points, 22 fouls, 20 turnovers and 16 made field goals.
Despite the poor performance on both sides, the Bobcats still led 27-21 at halftime.
Foul trouble limited senior Jon Smith and junior Maurice Ndour to only 14 minutes of playing time in the first half, while senior Nick Kellogg and junior Stevie Taylor combined for zero points between the two of them. But where the stars did not shine in the first half, key role players stepped up and delivered. Starting for injured senior Ricardo Johnson, senior T.J. Hall put up eight first half points.
“I wanted to come out and drive the ball more (compared to the Akron game), and fill that role (Ricardo Johnson) usually plays, ” Hall said.
The bench was also crucial to carrying the team in the first half. Senior Travis Wilkins had seven points and three rebounds in the first half and sophomore Treg Setty added four points and five rebounds off the bench.
Coach Jim Christian made note of the bench’s play throughout the game.
“The guys who came into the game off the bench, I thought they did a phenomenally job of picking the energy level up,” Christian said. “I thought [the bench] played unbelievably hard.”
Halftime was all Ohio needed to wake up in the second half.
After only playing eight minutes in the first half, Ndour came out firing in the second half. 12 of his team his team high 16 points came in the second half. Taylor and Kellogg, who both scored zero in the first, scored seven and five points respectively in the second half.
One of the keys to the Bobcat win was how they controlled two of Ball State’s better players: freshman Zavier Turner and senior Majok Majok.
Turner, who came in averaging 12.7 points per game and 4.0 assist per game, was held to 10 points on 3-8 shooting and six turnovers to one assist. Majok, who came in averaging a double-double, had 11 rebounds, but only four points.
Ohio continued their defensive ways tonight, forcing the Cardinals to shoot 32.6% for the game. Ball State, who entered the night last in the MAC in turnovers at 16.2 turnovers per game, coughed up the ball 21 times tonight. The Bobcats capitalized on those turnovers, scoring 19 points off those 21 Ball State giveaways.
“That’s how we always get (out offense going) is always off our defense,” Setty said. ” Our offense just follows suit.”
Ohio’s next game will be this Saturday, a road game against Northern Illinois. Tip-off is set for 8 p.m.