The Ohio Bobcats sure looked impressive for the first 30 minutes of Friday's game against a tough Tulsa team that was coming off a big win against No. 9 Wichita State. It was that final 10 minutes that proved to be a disaster for the Saul's Ballers in their 90-88 loss to the Tulsa Golden Hurricane.
Ohio went up 70-51 with 11:20 to go in the game. Coach Frank Haith's team then started finding their legs and began chipping away at the Ohio lead. A quick 9-0 spurt brought Tulsa back within 10. The two teams exchanged blows, Tulsa lost ground and gained it back quickly so that when Brandon Swannegan's (16 points) shot went in at the 6:04 Ohio led just 77-72. The 'Cats pushed back, but Tulsa's full court pressure, which had rendered Ohio's offense entirely non-existent over a string of several minutes, turned Ohio over again and again. Back-to-back Shaquille Harrison dunks made it a 2-point game. It was then that Tulsa just completely overtook Ohio, finishing a 14-0 run to go up 86-81. Ohio made a run at the end with a Jordan Dartis 3-pointer making it 88-87, but Ohio came up empty with a chance to tie at the end. Harrison fueled the Tulsa fire with 31 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists.
Ohio's free throw shooting helped complement its extraordinary first half and early second half shooting to keep a foot on the throat of the Hurricane. But it didn't matter when Tulsa's full-court pressure caught up to the 'Cats. A string of possessions in which Ohio turned the ball over five consecutive times helped do them in. Another stat indicative of those struggles was the 2 assists Ohio had in the second half compared to...lots of turnovers. Tulsa scored 38 points off Ohio's 23 turnovers.
The sound of ringing will likely be in the player's ears throughout the rest of their time in the Virgin Islands. Officials handed out 86 total free throws with Ohio sinking 30 of its 40 free throws, but the 'Cats went 4-9 to end the game from the line. The fact that Ohio was up 54-37 at halftime was impressive enough in itself. On one hand, Bobcat fans have to be excited having seen what they did in the first 20 minutes of the Paradise Jam. It was the final 11 minutes that they'll want to block from memory.
After struggling from beyond the arc in each of his first two games, Kenny Kaminski lit it up from the floor in the first half against the Golden Hurricane, scoring 18 points on 4 of 5 3-point shooting. Kaminski went to the charity stripe two separate times in the first half where he shot one from distance and then proceeded to hit each free throw. He finished the game with 21 points.
Jaaron Simmons came into his own with an impressive performance in the first half. He scored 14, grabbed 4 boards and assisted on 7 buckets in the first 20 minutes. He finished the afternoon with 30 points and 8 assists. He also turned the ball over 7 times, which has proven to be a consistent part of his game thus far.
Antonio Campbell continued his struggles picking up fouls. Campbell came in to 2015-2016 expected to be Ohio's primary scoring option. He still probably is the best scoring option. The problem is, he has yet to play anything resembling a full game because of his foul trouble. He finished with 7 points in 17 minutes of play today.
Ohio now gets the loser of Indiana State/Norfolk State.