Men’s basketball: Ohio never trails, hands Marshall its first loss in nail-biter

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Ohio nearly let another game slip away, but in the end, the Bobcats built too big an early lead for Marshall to overcome.

The Bobcats improved to 4-1 with a 70-68 win over the Herd in Huntington, W. Va., but the feeling afterwards was that Ohio escaped the Cam Henderson Center with a win.

Ohio shot 50 percent from the field and never trailed, but found itself on defense with 8.9 seconds left as Marshall tried to tie the game or win it outright.

DeAndre Kane's last-second drive was defended well by Ohio's Walter Offutt, clanged off the front iron and fell short. Ohio held on to hand the Thundering Herd its first loss of the season.

"We feel really fortunate to win tonight," Ohio head coach John Groce said.

"This was really fun," Offutt added. "This was a really fun game."

Ohio had four players score in double figures – Reggie Keely (16), Offutt (13), D.J. Cooper (11) and Ivo Baltic (10) – but battled foul trouble for most of the game.

Keely, Offutt, Nick Kellogg and Jon Smith all had four fouls when regulation time expired.

With all the fouls on Ohio in the game, Marshall got to the free-throw line 38 times, but the Herd missed 17 of those foul shots.

"Go ahead and ask me about it," Herd head coach Tom Herrion said. "It's not like my kids go up there trying to miss free throws."

"You can't win like that, when you're playing defense like that and missing that many free throws," Marshall guard Demier Pitts said.

The 'Cats led by 12 points with 5:31 remaining, then Marshall (5-1) clawed back into the game. Kane hit a three-ball to cut the lead to three points with 26 seconds left, before the Pittsburgh, Pa. native couldn't convert on the game's final possession.

"We just played harder, from the beginning we just didn't play harder," Pitts added. "We should have played like that at the beginning."

Cooper played phenomenally for the majority of the game, finishing with 11 points, 11 assists and four steals (four turnovers).

"I thought D.J. probably played his best game of the season so far," Groce said.

"DJ Cooper's one of the best point guards in the country," Pitts added. "He had a terrific game tonight. He's got great court vision, we had some letdowns at the end."

For a team still struggling to close out a game, getting a win on the road in a truly hostile environment is important, especially after losing on the road to Louisville last Friday.

Ohio is 4-1 and still searching for a finishing touch. But for now, Groce and company will take it. Morgan State is the next opponent for the Bobcats – Saturday at 2 p.m. at the Convocation Center.

Three observations from Ohio's win