Ohio led most of the game, but it wasn’t anything close to a blow out. The first half was tight, with Ohio going on a little run to take the lead at the half, 39-32.
After the break, Ohio stretched the lead to 9 with 16:53, before Northern Illinois was able to tie it up 57-57 with 6:52 to go thanks to a nifty ball fake and drive by Eugene German. On the next possession, Marin Maric was able to gather the rebound off his own miss and the finish gave Northern Illinois their first lead since early in the first half.
Mike Laster answered with a 3, giving the Bobcats a 1 point lead. Dontel Highsmith had a chance to retake the lead at the line, but hit 1 out of 2 for the tie. That was indicative of how the rest of the game would go for Northern Illinois. They had their chances, but little mistakes cost them. Ohio eventually pulled away, and won 78-69.
Northern Illinois finished the game 11-21 from the free throw line. That was really the difference in the game. The Huskies out rebounded the Antonio Campbell-less Bobcats, 39-34.
It’s a little premature to say the Jason Carter era is officially here for the Bobcats, but he did finish with 15 points and 12 rebounds. Jaaron Simmons ended the contest with 23 points and 5 assists. He hit 9 out of 15 shots from the floor. Jordan Dartis scored 14. Laster added 14 off the bench on 5 of 9 shooting.
Ohio is going to need more performances like that from Dartis and Laster going forward, because Kenny Kaminski isn’t always on. He wasn’t tonight, and the rest of the Bobcats did a good job of picking up the slack and pulling out the win. Other nights, Kaminski will be hitting, and help carry the team. Even though it was a huge blow, the Campbell injury doesn’t leave the Bobcats dead in the water.
The Bobcats moved to 12-5 overall, and 4-2 in the MAC. They host Toledo on Tuesday.
Maric led the Huskies with 16 points and 11 rebounds. Jaylen Key was the only other starter in double figures with 11 on 5-7 shooting. Off the bench, German had 15 and Levi Bradley added 11.
The Huskies were in the game till the end. Little mistakes like missed free throws and stepping on the out of bounds line when not really pressured cost them. You can’t do that against a team as good as Ohio.
The Huskies moved to 12-7 overall, and 4-2 in the MAC. They host Kent on Tuesday.