Even without Maurice Ndour and almost nothing from Stevie Taylor, the Ohio Bobcats earned some revenge by beating the Bowling Green Falcons at the Stroh Center in Bowling Green, Ohio on Tuesday night. The victory kept alive Ohio's hopes of earning the #4 seed in the upcoming MAC tournament, as well as the double-bye to the third round that comes with it. The loss by Bowling Green spoiled the Falcons' final home game of the season.
The Bobcats' strategy from the very beginning was clear: aggressively defend and generally double-team Cameron Black. The task was executed beautifully. Black was held to just six points and only three rebounds in 32 minutes, and he got to the free throw line just once (0-of-2).
To counter this, Bowling Green needed excellent guard play, and unfortunately, what they got wasn't good enough. Anthony Henderson and Jehvon Clarke generally avoided the turnover, as they combined for four. However, they could not make enough shots to pull Ohio defenders out to the perimeter. Clarke was 3-of-13 overall and 0-of-4 from beyond the arc. Henderson was better but took only seven shots and made only one of his three 3-pointers. The pair totaled 18 points, seven rebounds, and six assists.
Richaun Holmes, who played off the bench so Craig Sealey could start his final home game, scored 20 points. However, nine of those points came at the free throw line, and he made only five field goals, one of which was a 3-pointer. He also had just five rebounds and earned no blocks.
Ohio got the guard play that Bowling Green desperately needed. Javarez Willis, Nick Kellogg and Travis Wilkins combined for 50 of Ohio's 72 points (as well as 13 rebounds and nine assists). They made 17 of their 24 shots and were deadly (9-of-15) from behind the 3-point line. Willis sank four 3-pointers and Wilkins added three more, but Kellogg was a one-man wrecking crew by himself. He scored 25 points and made eight of his 13 shots. He was also a perfect 7-of-7 at the charity stripe.
There's not much BGSU could do to win the game when their offense was handcuffed and Ohio's was on fire.
Ohio held a small lead early, but Bowling Green was able to take their first (and only) lead of the game at the midpoint of the first half. Josh Gomez sank a jumper with 10:04 left in the half to make the score 15-14 in favor of BGSU.
It was mostly downhill for the Falcons after that. They went scoreless for over six minutes by missing eight straight shots and committing three turnovers. The Bobcats scored 10 straight points during that time to reclaim the lead. After Clarke finally broke the BGSU drought, Kellogg, Wilkins and Antonio Campbell all drilled 3-pointers for Ohio in the final 3:14 of the half. When the dust settled, the Bobcats ended the half on a 19-6 run and led 33-21.
Bowling Green opened the second half by scoring five straight points, but Ohio responded by reeling off a 13-3 run that included a 3-pointer from Willis and two others from Wilkins. Just four minutes into the half, Ohio held a 17-point lead (46-29), which would prove to be their biggest of the game.
Ohio's lead would be slowly whittled down to nine with five minutes left and eventually seven with 87 seconds left, but Bowling Green would get no closer. The Bobcats were simply shooting too well to allow BGSU to go on an extended run.
How well did they shoot? They made 57.8 percent of their shots. In the second half, they made 13 of their 19 attempts (68.4%). Ohio was great from long-distance (10-of-18) and the free throw line (10-of-13). Bowling Green wasn't exactly terrible. They shot 44.9 percent overall and 50 percent in the second half, but it was not enough to overcome what Ohio was doing.
BGSU was out-rebounded 29-22, but they had a 15-10 edge in takeaways. They also had a 25-9 advantage in second-chance and turnover-created points. Still, they could not pull out the win.
The Bobcats are now 20-10 overall and 10-7 in MAC play. They close the regular season on Saturday at noon when they play at Miami. The Falcons are 12-18 overall and 6-11 against MAC competition. Their final regular season game is on Saturday afternoon at Buffalo.