Ohio senior and pivotal wingman Ricardo Johnson might be out for a while after sustaining an injury, but the Bobcats won't be too dreary after escaping UNC-Asheville with a 79-70 win on Saturday afternoon.
Two Bobcats tied or achieved career highs for points in a game. "Nature Boy" Maurice Ndour scored 27, and Nick Kellogg tied a career high with 23. The two combined for 28 shots as no other Bobcat attempted more than seven. Kellogg, who was averaging nine rebounds a contest, plucked nine off the boards, which was good for second on the afternoon to Ndour's 10.
Ohio fell behind 30-15 early behind sloppy play, which has been a recurring theme for Ohio. The Bulldogs' Andrew Rowsey attempted 14, yeah you heard that right 14 3-point shots and hit six of them. But he was feeling it mostly in the first half when he poured in five buckets from downtown. Rowsey led all scorers with 28 points.
An Ndour baseline jumper bucket with 1:13 remaining swished through the net as the shot clock expired to give Ohio a bit of comfort with a 71-66 score. Those were the last Ndour points to cap off an afternoon of thunderous dunks.
Ohio Picked up a stop with 14 seconds left, and Stevie Taylor corralled the rebound. Immediately after, a technical foul was called against D.J. Cunningham for a slight shove of Taylor. The diminutive point guard stepped to the charity stripe and knocked down two free throws to make the score 77-70, effectively ending the game as Ohio was awarded possession.
Ohio outscored the Bulldogs 48-27 in the second half in what was at times, dominant basketball. They helped themselves more than anything down the stretch by hitting the free ones. In an increasingly enocouraging sign for bobcat fans, Ohio hit 30 of 34 free throws, and not a single bobcat missed more than one from the charity stripe.
As for Johnson, who came into the game third on the Bobcats in points, rebounds and minutes per game, he went down about 11 minutes into the game. An uncomfortable looking leg injury awaits a diagnosis as Johnson came out of the tunnel at the half with a boot on his right leg.
Ohio only made five of 18 from thee-point land and turned the ball over 13 times, but sloppy play did not do them in this afternoon.
The loss was the Bulldogs first home loss of the season, after having won their first four.
Ohio moves to 10-3 on the season and heads into MAC play on Wednesday, January 8th when they play at Kent State,