Updated Thu, Jan 16, 2014 11:23 am
Despite a slow start for the Bobcats, Ohio improved to 12-4 (2-1) after defeating Ball State (3-11, 0-3) 71-51 at home Wednesday night.
Ohio’s first half woes were evident once again Wednesday night against Ball State. The Bobcats turned the ball over nine times and only went 1-for-9 from 3-point range. Despite those ugly numbers they still found themselves ahead 27-21 at halftime.
Ball State was just as bad as Ohio in the first half, turning the ball over 11 times and also going 1-for-9 from deep. The only noticeable advantage Ohio had in the first half was on 2-point field goals. Ohio attacked the rim often, leading to a 43.5 field goal percentage in the first half.
Neither team was sharp offensively, as multiple passes sailed out of bounds with no intended target in sight. To put it simply, it was just bad basketball.
Despite the poor play, there were some bright spots for the Bobcats. Travis Wilkins and Treg Setty both provided Ohio with valuable minutes off the bench. Wilkins pitched in 7 points in the first half and finished with 10.
Setty, meanwhile, did a little bit of everything for the ‘Cats, recording 4 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 steal in the first half. Much of what Setty gave the Bobcats did not show up in the box score, as he gave them a lift by constantly hustling and chasing after loose balls. Setty did not score in the second half, but he did record another steal.
Ohio coach Jim Christian was pleased with the production of Setty, Wilkins and the other players off the bench.
“The guys who came into the game off the bench, Treg, Antonio, Travis, Bean, all did a phenomenal job of picking the energy level up,” he said.
The brightest spot in the first half for Ohio was T.J. Hall, who scored 8 points in the first 20 minutes. By repeatedly attacking the rim, Hall got some easy looks, and he did a good job of finishing those easy looks as well.
Hall continued his aggressive play in the second half and finished with 13 points on the night. Ohio needed Hall to step up in the first half, as its two leading scorers, Maurice Ndour and Nick Kellogg, were held to just four points.
“When I saw those two (Ndour and Kellogg) not executing, not doing what they needed to do, I knew I had to step up, be more assertive and make plays for other guys and myself,” Hall explained.
For the second time in three games, Ohio’s offense picked up in the second half, resulting in a Bobcat win. The ‘Cats even played better offensively in the second half than in the first half in their double overtime loss to Akron.
Ndour, who only had 4 points in the first half, came out aggressively after halftime, scoring five of Ohio’s first seven second half points. Ndour finished with 16 points Wednesday night.
Ndour was not the only Bobcat that elevated his game in the second half. The team as a whole shot 48 percent from the field in the second half and 50 percent from 3-point range.
“In the second half, we finally got the ball advanced up the floor,” Christian said of his team’s second half offensive performance. “We could attack some people and it got them spread out and we could drive it.”
Christian emphasized the importance of responding to adversity to his team at halftime and was pleased to see his team took his message to heart.
“For me, it’s all about responses,” he said. “You can be challenged in a million different ways, but you have to respond the right way, and we responded in the right way today.”
Ohio will be back in action Saturday when they travel to Dekalb, Ill., to take on Northern Illinois (7-7, 1-1).