Saul Phillips hopes that the 2015-2016 season will be drastically different for his Ohio Bobcats, and that proved true for one of his players in Saturday’s season opener. Wadly Momnpremier has battled Crohn’s disease since joining the Bobcats, but the junior had a career-best game in Ohio’s 85-75 season-opening win over Florida Gulf Coast.
“Today felt great,” Mompremier said. “I think I surprised a lot of people. I’m more healthy this year.”
Mompremier saw added minutes when Tony Campbell got into foul trouble early in the game and recorded a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds.
“Wadly was everywhere,” Phillips said. “I don’t know how many times I thought the play was over and he came out of nowhere.”
“I think Mompremier’s energy off the bench was a huge difference,” Florida Gulf Coast coach Joe Dooley said. “He was a major factor in the game.”
Ohio held a comfortable 15-point lead with just under five minutes, but Florida Gulf Coast cut the deficit to 6 with 1:41 remaining in the game. The Bobcats put the ball in the hands of its transfer point guard, Jaaron Simmons, and he sank seven free throws in the final minute to seal the 10-point victory.
Jaaron Simmons led Ohio offensively with 20 points, 7 assists and 4 rebounds. Simmons scored 13 of his points from 17 attempts at the foul line.
“Jaaron’s not looking to score,” Mompremier said. “He’s looking to pass first. That’s what I love about him. Who wouldn’t love a point guard that’s gonna pass you the ball?”
Kenny Kaminsky contributed 17 points and 9 boards, despite making just one of his nine attempts from 3-point range. Campbell added 11 points and grabbed 6 rebounds before fouling out midway through the second half.
The Bobcats shot 48 percent from the floor and held a 45-31 rebounding advantage over a lengthy Eagles lineup.
“We gave up 15 offensive rebounds to Indiana Tech,” Phillips said. “What did you think I was thinking going up against them?”
Marc-Eddy Noriela led FGCU with 21 points and 9 rebounds. Julian Debose racked up 16 points, 5 assists and 4 rebounds.
Ohio was presented with the added challenge of handling Eagles forward Antravious Simmons, who was cleared to play by NCAA on Friday night. Simmons finished with 12 points and snatched 7 boards.
The Green & White return to action on Monday night when it faces Tennessee State.