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Arkansas Pine-Bluff Golden Lions vs. Ohio Bobcats: Bobcats Win Nitty-Gritty Game

It sure wasn't pretty, but Ohio did just enough at the end of its game with Arkansas Pine-Bluff to pull out a win in Athens.

Ndour and the 'Cats move to 3-1 with a win over UAPB
Ndour and the 'Cats move to 3-1 with a win over UAPB
Michael Prontazo Ohio Athletics

Ugly wins are a common thing in the early goings of the college basketball season. Ohio did its job by pulling out a close and hard-fought win against Arkansas Pine-Bluff on Tuesday night. In a game in which neither team could distance themselves from their counterpart, the largest lead that either team had was the 69-60 score that Ohio held at the final buzzer.

Most Ohio University students had headed home for Thanksgiving break, the Convocation Center wasn't particularly full and the Clermont Northeastern High School band played in place of the Marching 110. It wasn't the typical home game, and had plenty components that might typically result in a let down game.

Maurice Ndour and Javarez "Bean" Willis simply did not let that happen, and led the way for the 'Cats, with Ndour scoring 21 and grabbing 12 boards while Willis banged home four three-pointers, four assists, and scored 16 points in the win.

UAPB forced the issue early with an at-times suffocating 2-3 zone and a 2-2-1 press that hurried the Ohio offensive up to an uncomfortable pace. In fact, the Golden Lions forced 13 turnovers in the first-half alone (and 20 on the night).

"If this game was a drive to Columbus, we would have been clocked going about 100 miles per hour around Lancaster," said Coach Saul Phillips. Guards Stevie Taylor and Willis combined for 12 turnovers (mostly in the first).

"I think we need to slow down, I think we're moving too fast and making decisions real fast. I think it'll make it easier if we slow down and let people actually come to the ball," said Willis.

The Golden Lions took an 11-7 lead early on with a tomahawk slam on the break by Ghiavonni Robinson (who, along with Marcel Mosley, paced UAPB in scoring). The score never widened past that four-point margin in the half, with both teams exchanging punches throughout. Ohio sported just a 30-28 advantage after 20 minutes. And so it went for the rest of the night.

UAPB came out strong in the second half and played strongly over the first few minutes, taking the largest lead of the game about three minutes into the second half at a score of 37-32. At that point, the Lions were hitting the board hard, and playing tough as nails around the hoop. On the bright side for Ohio, the 'Cats responded with a short 13-4 run of its own over about four minutes of game play. Baskets on several possessions under the 12-minute mark from Willis, Ndour and Setty helped the 'Cats fend off the Lions for the time being, before UAPB finally caught up at 52-52 with about five minutes left.

But after Ohio worked its way to the charity stripe repeatedly (the 'Cats were able to get in the bonus with a decent amount of time left in the game), Arkansas Pine-Bluff just became worn down. Ohio shot 21 of 27 from the free throw line on the evening, and free throw tosses from Ndour, Treg Setty, and Ryan Taylor helped ice the game. But again, it was a couple seniors in Ndour and Willis who proved to make the biggest difference. "Every game you gotta learn from something," Willis said. "I took a lot of bad shots, I took a couple bad shots the last game so today I just focused on taking better shots, wide-open shots...and jumping straight up and straight down because I have a tendency to kind of fall out of my shot sometimes."

"I have senior moments, but its a different kind," Phillips added.

Ohio moved to 3-1 with the victory and gets to go stuff themselves with food assuredly.