Antonio Campbell stuck four fingers in the air after banging home his fourth triple of the day on a beautifully executed pick-and-pop assist from Jaaron Simmons. The basket put Ohio up 7 points about midway through the second half in the midst of a solid run on its way to a 79-73 win.
"He (Campbell) scores more points off the assists probably than anyone on this team," said coach Saul Phillips. "...all of our guys like feeding him because they know good things are going to happen.
The Cardinals never pulled any closer than four after that triple.
As good as Campbell was, Simmons carried the 'Cats down the stretch too. The sophomore point guard scored 13 second half points (out of 21) and helped Ohio to score 1.278 points per possession in the latter half. He produced on the glass with 11 total rebounds and added 6 assists.
"Coach came in (at half), lit a fire under us, it raised our intensity," said Simmons. "It made us come out and attack them instead of being attacked." Simmons and Campbell noted that some colorful language was used in his halftime address. But hey, it worked.
"I used some language that I'm going to have to ask for forgiveness tomorrow, " said Coach Saul Phillips. "I stomped, I hopped around like a three-year old kid."
Tony had 17 in the second half, so the duo of these two down the stretch was critical to the win that puts Ohio at 1-1 in MAC play. It was Ohio's eighth win on the year in the Convo compared to zero losses.
"This is a hard place to play, they've got a good team," said BSU coach James Whitford. "There aren't going to be many teams that are going to come in here and win....the one thing that I was disappointed in was our inability to protect the glass."
The second half started with a bang.
The Bobcats opened up the second half by scoring 16 points in the first 4:13 of the latter 20 minutes but led just 49-47 before they started to get some stops. A layup and 3-pointer from Campbell put Ohio up 56-51 before the Cards' Francis Kiapway brought Ball State back within two. Two more Campbell free throws and the aforementioned fourth 3-pointer had the Convocation Center rocking. The 'Cats were able to stuff the Ball State comeback effort from there on out.
It was big for Campbell to play without fouling, a facet of the game that plagued him in the last loss to NIU. He finished with 27 points and 13 rebounds. The 'Cats outrebounded BSU 40-29 on the day and scored 17 second-chance points to BSU's 5.
Treg Setty played some valuable minutes too, contributing double digits once again with 11. The ability to rely on Setty to consistently put up 10 has been a welcome development for this team .
Ohio led for most of the first half but clamped down with about five minutes remaining. An 11-3 run put the Cardinals up 34-26. A quick spurt from the Ohio in the form of a determined drive from Jaaron Simmons (and 2 free throws) and a transition 3-pointer from Gavin Block had Ohio back within three. A shot-clock beating 3-pointer from Bo Calhoun sent Ball State into the half up 39-33.
"The reason the game changed is because our guys decided to change how they played," said Phillips.
Francis Kiapway had himself a fun night. Campbell noted afterwards that the attention that the Bobcats paid towards Ryan Weber (who finished with 10 points) might have contributed to open looks from Kiapway. The sophomore guard finished with 21 points and made 6 3-pointers.
Trey Moses, Bo Calhoun and Weber all finished in double figures.
A 25-31 afternoon from the free throw line was another critical stat to note.
Block got hurt in the second half, as he went up for a layup/dunk. It's obvious that it was a knee injury, the extent of the damage is unknown.
The Cards played without sophomore forward Sean Sellers who had been listed as day-to-day. Naiel Smith battled some shoulder issues and was in obvious pain while also battling foul trouble.
Ohio still hasn't lost two games in a row this season and moved to 10-4. Ball State falls to 10-5.