Updated Thu, Jan 30, 2014 10:47 am
It takes a full 40 minutes to win a basketball game and Central Michigan (7-12, 0-7) found that out the hard way when Ohio (15-5, 5-2) defeated the Chippewas 71-67 after trailing for most of the second half.
For the second straight game, Ohio demonstrated its resiliency and erased a double digit deficit in the second half on its way to a victory.
“The one thing about this team is if you let them back in the game, they’re gonna win the game,” head coach Jim Christian said.
Central Michigan opened the second half on a 15-5 run to boost its lead to 48-30 with 14:48 left in the game. That was when Ohio, which had sleepwalked through the end of the first half as well as the beginning of the second half, decided to wake up and compete.
The comeback effort started on the defensive end. The Bobcats swarmed Chippewa ball handlers and forced them to turn it over, which allowed Ohio to get out on the break. The Bobcats also did a much better job of controlling the glass in the second half, giving up only three offensive rebounds after allowing nine in the first half.
Then on the offensive end, Ohio repeatedly went inside and attacked the rim. It was clear that Ohio had the advantage inside, as it got whatever it wanted when it got the ball inside. Maurice Ndour terrorized the Chippewas with 21 points and 11 rebounds in the game.
Central Michigan had no answer for the Senegal native. Ndour scored from the post, he hit mid-range jump shots and he got to the free throw line. He even sank a 3-pointer to cut Central Michigan’s lead to 62-60 with 5:12 left in the game.
Ndour’s fellow big man Jon Smith had an impressive night with 10 points, nine rebounds, three blocks and two steals in the game. Smith explained the team’s mentality when it faces a large deficit.
“We are a winning program; we understand how to win,” Smith said. “We never put our heads down, we never put our heads up. We stay the same.”
T.J. Hall was also instrumental in the comeback for Ohio, scoring six of his nine points in the second half. He was able to put a putrid 0 for 12 performance against Eastern Michigan Saturday behind him by attacking the rim instead of settling for jump shots.
Hall slashed to the rim and converted layups to tie the game on back to back possessions for Ohio late in the second half.
“In order to pick up for Ric, (Travis Wilkins and Hall) are going to have to do more than just score the ball and play minutes and play good defense,” Christian explained. “They’re going to have to impact the game, and without question, (Hall) was one of the guys that impacted the game.”
As well as Ohio played coming down the stretch of the game, it played just as poorly leading up to that point. The Bobcats failed to handle a zone press once again, allowing Central Michigan defenders to fluster and trap them. Ohio looked utterly lost against the press in the first half, as it turned the ball over nine times in the first half.
While it is encouraging to see Ohio battle back to win again, the first half of games is becoming a major point of concern for the Bobcats. They can get away with turnovers and sloppy play for half a game against teams like Central Michigan, but they certainly will not be able to play like that against its next opponent Toledo (18-2, 6-1), and expect to compete.
Toledo is arguably the best team in the MAC and Ohio’s largest test so far this season. Ohio will need to put together a complete game against the Rockets on Saturday. Smith stated that the team is working to put together a full 40 minutes.
Ohio and Toledo are set to tip-off at 1 p.m. on Saturday at the Convocation Center.