There is a reason why year in and year out (usually) the same teams are always at the top of the standings. The coaches know how to coach, the players know how to win, and that mindset fosters a winning mentality among all facets of the program itself. That's why maybe it wasn't so shocking that a veteran team like Ohio came back to beat a younger Eastern Michigan squad, even when the likelihood of winning seemed minimal at best.
That "winning mentality" isn't the sole reason why the Bobcats were able to pull it out. The Eagles went into a stall offense to try and run clock (this is where you say: isn't their normal offense a stall offense?) and couldn't get stops on the defensive end. Ohio's 12-1 run in the last four minutes of the game sealed the deal and put Ohio back in the chase for the MAC Championship.
The Eagles held a pretty constant ten point lead throughout the game, but it always seemed like it should have been more. Ohio couldn't hit anything in the first half and at halftime was shooting just 22%. However, Eastern Michigan wasn't much better, hitting just 35% of their field goals. Stevie Taylor was the only one doing any scoring for the Bobcats, hitting three threes in the first half. Taylor picked up a questionable offensive foul right before halftime, his third after getting T'd up for taunting a few minutes earlier.
With Taylor out for the start of the second half, the Eagles pushed the lead out to twelve behind nine points from Glenn Bryant. Daylen Harrison and Karrington Ward each chipped in as well and it seemed the Eagles were well on their way to a nice home victory and an important step up in the standings.
At the five minute mark of the second half, Ohio was down nine and still wasn't filling it up on the offensive end. There was a feeling that if Eastern Michigan could just get a couple more stops and make some free throws they would be okay. Unfortunately for the Eagles, that was not the case.
A quick 9-0 run over the next two minutes got the Bobcats back within two at 55-53. After an awful offensive possession where Eastern Michigan put up a forced three, Maurice Ndour knocked a jumper down to even the score. Another missed three led to a Javarez Willis three for the Bobcats, giving Ohio their first lead of the game with 28 seconds remaining.
Karrington Ward was mistakenly fouled the next possession, but only could make one of two. T.J. Hall, who didn't make a shot all game (0-12) was fouled by the Eagles, but missed the front end of his one-and-one. Eastern had four seconds to score but couldn't get a good look at it.
Taylor led the way with fourteen, while Nick Kellogg and Willis both had twelve. Ndour and Jon Smith both had great games on the glass with fourteen and ten rebounds respectively. Bryant and Ward did everything for the Eagles, putting up fourteen and thirteen.
The Bobcats get Central Michigan at home next Wednesday while the Eagles welcome Bowling Green to the Convocation Central that same day.