The Evansville Aces blanked the Ohio Bobcats in the overtime period as superstar guard D.J. Balentine built on a strong second-half performance with two buckets and two tosses from the free throw line in the last five minutes to lead his team to a 81-69 win.
An 11-2 Evansville run put the Aces in the lead late in the second half after Ohio had traded buckets but held the lead for the majority of the second period. But Ohio battled back and was able to tie the game at 69-69 on a Javarez Willis 3-ball with 44 seconds left in the game. D.J. Balentine had an opportunity to win the game and took the clock down to just a few seconds before making his move and missing what would have been the game-winning shot. Treg Setty pulled down the board, but came down out of bounds, giving Evansville one last chance at a winner with 0.9 seconds on the clock. On the ensuing inbound play after the official's review of the clock, Ohio's Khari Harley came away with a steal to send the game into overtime, where Evansville eventually pulled away.
Ohio came into the contest not entirely sure of the status of two starters, with point guard Stevie Taylor and freshman wingman, Ryan Tayor battling some pain of his own. Setty earned his first career start and made good on Coach Saul Phillips' confidence by putting up 8 points in the first half. Anthony Campbell, who has been faced with back spasms, showed little sign of pain while dumping 10 points on the Aces but fouled out late in regulation. Campebell was not the only bobcat to battle foul trouble, as Setty, Wadley Mompremier, and Maurice Ndour all incurred their own issues with their physicality on the defensive end.
Glaringly enough, Evansville took 28 trips to the FT line (making 23 ) while Ohio attempted just three free-bee's. Part of that was Ohio's willingness to shoot from deep, as it went 9/26 from three.
Both teams came in with competent offensive schemes, with Ohio hitting 50 percent of its shots in the first half, while Blake Simmons and D.J. Balentine combining for 19 points together in the half. Balentine came into the matchup having scored at least 20 points in each of his last five games, (and extended that streak to six games with his 23-point performance). The Ohio defense didn't do a bad job on Balentine, who only hit 8 of 19 shots. Big man Egidijus Mockevicius played a big part in establishing an offense late, scoring several big buckets down the stretch.
Evansville moved the ball better on its way to 21 assists, compared to Ohio's 10.
Ohio fell to 3-4 with the loss to the now 8-2 Aces. The 'Cats move on to the Diamond Head classic in Hawaii where the competition will be stiff.