Updated Mon, Nov 18, 2013 2:26 pm
It was not pretty, but the Ohio Bobcats (2-1) got the job done and defeated the Valparaiso Crusaders (2-2), 76-72, at home on Sunday.
It was a tale of two halves for the Bobcats on Sunday. The first half started off with a bang as Ohio jumped out to an early 20-8 lead thanks to a hot start from Maurice Ndour, who scored 11 points in the first six minutes of the game. The 6-foot-9 forward stuffed the stat sheet to the tune of 23 points, six rebounds, five blocks and four steals.
“I just go out there and play for the team,” Ndour said. “I do whatever I can for the team.”
“Maurice is a guy that has to be guarded every time down,” said Ohio head coach Jim Christian, who was pleased with Ndour’s play.
Ndour was not the only Bobcat that played well early. Ohio started 8-of-9 from the field and 4-of-5 from 3-point range as a team. However, the shots stopped falling for Ohio. Even as they cooled off offensively, the Bobcats maintained their defensive intensity.
“Defensively, in the first half, is probably as well as we have played all year,” Christian said.
Ohio forced a total of 19 turnovers and converted those turnovers into 25 points. It also held Valparaiso to 37.0% (20-of-54) from the field and blocked 10 shots Sunday.
The game entered halftime with Ohio leading, 40-28. The Bobcats failed to maintain its strong defensive play in the second half, though, and they began to foul Crusaders nearly every time down the floor.
“In the second half, I thought defensively might have been the worst we’ve played in terms of our 1-on-1 defense,” Christian explained. “We gave them too many angles to the basket.”
Valparaiso shot 21 free throws in the second half alone, making 17 of them. The Crusaders’ defense was not much better, however, as Ohio shot 22 free throws in the second half. Unlike Valpo, Ohio could not convert from the line, as it only made 12 of its 22 second-half free throws.
The Bobcats’ inability to make free throws allowed the Crusaders to claw their way back into the game, as they eventually took a 70-69 lead with 2:49 remaining in the game.
With 1:31 left and Valpo leading, 72-71, Ricardo Johnson sunk two free throws to give Ohio the 73-72 lead. Nick Kellogg then went to the line and made two more free throws to give the Bobcats a 3-point lead. Johnson added another free throw to seal the victory.
Ohio will travel to Baltimore, Md., Wednesday to take on Morgan State (0-3). Tipoff for that game is set for 7:30 p.m.
Slideshow: Ohio Defeats Valparaiso Behind Ndour's Big Day
Photos Credit: Tessa Brediger
Maurice Ndour pulls up for a jumper against Valparaiso in the Convocation Center. The big man had 23 points against the Crusaders in Ohio's 76-72 win on Nov. 17, 2013.