Saul Phillips’ job isn’t getting any easier. His Ohio Bobcats lost their fifth straight game, a 76-65 defeat to Bowling Green on Tuesday.
The loss marks the first time since 2004 that Ohio (9-17, 4-11 MAC) has dropped five games in a row.
“Try not to make it six,” Phillips said helplessly when asked where his team goes from here. “I don’t like it. Nobody likes it.”
Bowling Green (18-8, 10-5 MAC) controlled the paint all night en route to an easy victory.
“We got absolutely beasted in the paint tonight” Phillips said. “It put us in a monstrous hole.”
Bowling Green held a 45-31 rebounding edge in the game. The Falcons 18 offensive rebounds resulted in 21 second-chance points. BGSU outscored the Bobcats 42-26 in the paint.
“They were just more physical than us today,” Ohio forward Maurice Ndour said. “It takes five guys to get the ball and secure the rebound. It’s something we’ve got to work on.”
After beginning the game four-of-five from the field, the Bobcats made five of their remaining 22 attempts in the first half and found themselves down 40-22 at the break.
The Falcons led by as many as 23 before a late Ohio run that provided a surge of energy that proved too little, too late.
“We came at ’em with some energy late in the second half,” Phillips said. “All of the sudden it looks like a different basketball game.”
The Green & White failed to reach the free throw line until 10:17 in the second half. Phillips thought the lack of visits to the line were a result of his team’s lack of aggression.
“Even if the refs don’t like me, zero free throws is impossible unless you’re settling for things,” he said.
Spencer Parker’s double-double of 19 points and 10 rebounds led Bowling Green’s balanced attack. Parker was one of four Falcons to finish with double-digit scoring totals. Richaun Holmes led BGSU’s defensive effort with two blocks and two steals, in addition to 11 points and eight boards.
Ndour paced Ohio’s attack with 23 points and seven rebounds. Tony Campbell recorded his eighth double-double of the season with 14 points and 12 boards. Each of Ohio’s big men sank three 3-pointers in the loss.
“Mo’ (Ndour) got off to a terrific start,” Phillips said. “I thought he was as aggressive as he’s been on the offensive end. I’d like to see more of that.”
The ‘Cats leading scorer, Bean Willis, was sidelined for most of the game with a left ankle sprain. Phillips says Willis is questionable for Friday’s showdown at Akron.
Stevie Taylor tallied 12 points and five assists in Willis’ absence. Tuesday marked the first time Taylor’s seen 30 minutes on the court since the December 12 victory over Alcorn State.
“I only have one more time to play in this gym, Taylor said. “I’m just trying to play hard and go out how I want to go out.”
Taylor added that the Bobcats need to build momentum before the MAC Tournament.
“It’s simple,” he said. “Are you going to bring it or are you not?”
Ohio hits the road this week to take on Akron (17-11, 8-7 MAC) Friday at 8 p.m. The team will return home for a brief pit stop before departing for a Tuesday night game at Buffalo.
“It’s not like we’ve got two easy ones coming up,” Phillips said. “Go in and some fight, play with some pride.”