In their matchup with Eastern Michigan on Saturday, Ohio held the lead for a mere 28 seconds. Luckily for the Bobcats, those were the final 28 seconds of regulation.
Bean Willis’ three-pointer broke a 55-55 tie and spurred the Bobcats to a victory in Ypsilanti, 58-56. With the win, Ohio completed a 12-point comeback and avoided its first losing streak of the season.
For the first 28 minutes of the game, Ohio struggled to make shots. The Bobcats missed their first eight shots of the game, including a missed dunk from Maurice Ndour and a missed layup from senior gaurd Nick Kellogg. Before the Green & White could even blink they found themselves in a 9-0 hole.
The Eagles 2-3 zone, the same scheme Ohio struggled with against Bowling Green on Wednesday, forced the Bobcats to shoot a mere 20 percent in the first half. Even when Ohio seemed to find a spark, they shot themselves in the foot.
Stevie Taylor seemed to be the only bright spot for the Bobcats in the first half. With eight minutes remaining, he hit back-to-back threes to cut Eastern Michigan’s lead to five. But Taylor was issued a technical foul for trash-talking the Eagle bench. Suddenly all the momentum Ohio had just built disappeared.
The Bobcats trailed by six at halftime, but it could have been much worse. Ohio’s own 2-3 zone kept the Eagles shooting just 38 percent from the field, a trend that would continue in the second half.
With Ohio continuing to shoot poorly, Eastern Michigan would lead by as many as 12 in the second half. The Bobcats seemed to have no answer for senior forward Glenn Bryant, who finished with 14 points, seven rebounds and four assists on the afternoon.
To make matters worse, Taylor, who had been playing in foul trouble since the first half, fouled out with just under five minutes remaining in the game. Down nine points and without its leading scorer, Ohio seemed poised to take its second straight loss.
But Coach Jim Christian and his team were not quite ready to roll over. The second-year coach instituted a full-court press that flustered the Eagles. Content to shoot and miss threes and stay out of the painted area, Eastern Michigan would score just three points in the final five minutes.
Meanwhile, the Bobcats somehow found their stroke. After a couple of mid-range jumpers from senior swingman Jon Smith and a huge three-pointer Kellogg, the Bobcats suddenly found themselves down just two points with just under two minutes to play.
With just over a minute and a half remaining, Maurice Ndour’s turnaround jumper tied the game at 55. It was the first time the game had been tied since the score was tied a zero with 18:49 remaining in the first half. After Eastern Michigan’s Jalen Ross missed a three-pointer on the other end, Willis sealed it for the Bobcats with his fourth three-pointer of the day.
Willis’ three-pointer was one of 10 the Bobcats made on the day. Ohio was more effective from behind the arc (35 percent) then they were from the field (33 percent). The Eagles made only two three-pointers on the day.
Ohio will return to Athens to take on Central Michigan on Wednesday, with a matchup with conference leader Toledo looming on Saturday.
–Maurice Ndour was Ohio’s key to breaking Eastern Michigan’s zone. He finished with seven points and a season-high 14 rebounds.
-Stevie Taylor co-lead all scorers with 14 despite playing limited minutes because of foul trouble. Eastern Michigan’s Bryant also scored 14.
-Jon Smith also reached double-figures in rebounds with 10.
-T.J. Hall had a rough day. He shot 0-8 from the field in the first half and finished 0-12 with two points.