Men’s basketball: Bobcats hold on against Morgan State

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The Ohio Bobcats  (5-1) defeated the Morgan State Bears (0-7) 61-53 Saturday afternoon, but the winless Bears didn’t make it easy.  

Ohio point guard D.J. Cooper had one of his worst games of the season through 35 minutes, and didn’t register his first field goal until there were less than 6 minutes left in the game.

Neither team could find an offensive rhythm for most of the game and it showed. The two teams combined for 41 turnovers. Both teams accounted for 44 combined fouls, and that contributed to the lack of cohesion.

On a night where the Bobcats’ reliable players in Cooper, Reggie Keely, and Stevie Taylor were held to a combined 2-18 shooting, Walter Offutt was the only player who was able to create for the Bobcats all afternoon. He owned the baseline all game and slashed to the rim with ease. He drew fouls, dished to open players, and unlike seemingly everyone else for Ohio, finished at the rim. He finished with 17 points, six assists, and three rebounds to only one turnover.

The Bears had great size with 6-foot-9 Kevin Thompson and 7-foot-2 Ian Chiles down low. At one point, the Bears had a squad on the floor whose shortest player was 6-foot-6. This length bothered the Bobcats, who had a tough time finishing down low. They only shot 31 percent for the first half, and 35 percent for the game after improving to 41 percent in the second half.

Free throws killed Morgan State, however, as it only hit 63 percent of its attempts, while the Bobcats hit 75 percent. Despite the troubles at the line, Morgan State bothered the Bobcats enough defensively to take a 45-42 lead with seven minutes to play. Thompson, the stud for the Bears was bullying his way to the basket, and finished with 13 points and 12 rebounds.

However, Chiles fouled out, opening the floor for D.J. Cooper and Walter Offutt to take over. They were both slashing into the lane and finding both shooters on the outside, as well as finding Ivo Baltic, who was a man on a mission while off the ball making smart cuts to the hoop and finishing around the rim. The Cats started out on the break, and the Bears just couldn’t keep up. Ohio had finally found its rhythm. They had reclaimed the lead with the score at 52-51, and closed on a 9-2 run.

The Bobcats next travel to 5-2 Oakland (MI) on December 7, and the Bears will look for their first win against the UMBC Retrievers on December 14.