The game was never really in doubt at Alico Arena, as the Florida Gulf Coast University Eagles dismantled the Ohio Bobcats 79-62 behind Bernard Thompson's 34 points. Thompson showcased a mid-range game with a consistent jumper and left the 'Cats baffled as Saul Phillips' crew tried to find ways to stop the preseason A-Sun player of the year.
In the last 14:11 of the half, FGCU outscored Ohio 34-13, which featured a shorter 24-4 run over the span of ten minutes. Thompson scored nine points in that time while the 'Cats struggled with shot selection and stopping the Eagles' push on the fast break.
A combination of poor shooting and early foul trouble (Ohio's Maurice Ndour picked up two quick fouls), as well as an efficiently run offense from Joe Dooley's Eagles resulted in a dominant first half for FGCU. Thompson netted eighteen in the first and sixteen in the second, and led the way for an Eagles team that shot over fifty percent from the field (compared to 33% from Ohio). Cats only made five of their first 25 shots as Ndour and the team struggled as a whole.
In the second half, Ohio fought back to bring the game within a dozen and thirteen points multiple times, and made it a difference of ten with two Javarez "Bean" Willis free throws with under eleven minutes remaining in the game. But, it was Bernard Thompson who responded and helped put Ohio out of commission when he scored five of his team's next six buckets.
Willis and Ndour were the lone Bobcats two score in double-figures, with seventeen and sixteen respectively. Both showed resilience in the second half by not allowing the 'Cats to get blown away. It was notable that freshman Ryan Taylor, in his second collegiate game, scored four points on 2-of-9 shooting. That coming just a few days after scoring 21.
Ohio was outrebounded 44-33 even while starting both Ndour and sophomore Wadly Mompremier, and boasting the lengthy Taylor on the wing. It was Ohio's futility from long distance (2-20 from three-point land on the night) that will likely stick in the minds of fans, coaches, and players alike in the coming days.
In an audio clip shared after the game by Ohio Athletics, Phillips gave credit to FGCU for its performance:
"It was just an absolute awful start for us, but there's no way as a coach you can look at it without giving some credit to what Florida Gulf Coast did. They've got a special team here. They're really really good. I'm cheering for them, I like watching them play, I like the way they play."
In practice leading up to this game, Ohio coach emphasized how necessary it would be to fill passing lanes and try to mitigate the affects of Eagles point guard Brett Comer. Comer did not score, but impacted the game mightily with his ten assists. The Eagles had a glaring advantage in the assists category, 16-5. That's something that Saul Phillips will surely have to address in practice in the coming days.