A relatively boring first half of basketball got real exciting in the second half. Maybe a little too exciting.
In three consecutive possessions, Jaaron Simmons was charged with a flagrant foul, Gavin Block converted on a and-one dunk, and then a scuffle broke out after James Thompson IV and Block fought for a rebound.
An exciting turn of events, indeed, but it was exactly the push Eastern Michigan needed to hand Ohio their first MAC loss and home loss of the season.
The Eagles defeated the Bobcats, 53-49, in a low-scoring game that may have lacked offense, but didn’t lack excitement near the end.
Trailing by one with 37 seconds left, Jordan Dartis took a long three-pointer that was off the mark. Then, Tim Bond Jr. converted on a three-point shot from the corner to clinch the victory for Eastern Michigan.
Bond Jr. had 13 points for the Eagles, along with 7 rebounds in his 38 minutes on the court.
For the Bobcats, their loss on the court may be made worse by an injury to Tony Campbell. The senior ford was only on the court for three minutes before an injury took him out for the remainder of the game.
Coach Saul Phillips said the extent of the injury was not known, but Campbell was having difficulty walking.
Filling the hole left by Campbell, Jason Carter recorded his first career double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds.
Still, not much of their offense changed despite the absence of their star player.
“It’s the same offense,” Gavin Block said. “We’ve just got to have the next guy step up. I think Doug (Taylor) and Jason (Carter) did a good job. A lot of things just didn’t go our way tonight.”
What really hurt the Bobcats wasn’t the fight or even the injury to Campbell, but rather the lackluster performance at the free throw line and the lack of any offense rhythm.
Ohio missed 13 of their 29 free throws. The Eagles missed just six freethrows.
“If you give up 53 points at home you should win the damn game,” Phillips said. “If you miss 13 free throws you should lose.”
After a tough loss, Ohio has a quick turnaround as they’ll face Akron, who many expect to be it’s biggest challenge this weekend.
“If we don’t man up,” Phillips said. “3-0 could turn to 3-2 real quickly.”