Men’s basketball: Ohio’s slide continues at Bowling Green

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The Ohio Bobcats’ struggles in Bowling Green continued Saturday night after they lost 67-57 in a sloppy game. With the loss, the ‘Cats start off the conference schedule 0-1 and drop their overall record to 12-3.

Head coach John Groce said earlier in the week, referring to Mid-American Conference play, that season two started with Saturday's game. Season two didn’t begin quite like season one. Ohio started the 2011-’12 campaign on an historic run, going 12-1 to tie the best start in school history. However, Ohio has lost it’s first two games after welcoming students back to campus for winter quarter, tarnishing the impressive record. Not exactly a warm welcome.

After losing a heartbreaker Monday to Robert Morris, the ‘Cats looked to rebound Saturday and return to their winning ways. Once again, Ohio found itself down early and fighting to stay within striking distance the entire game. A late surge allowed Ohio to tie things up and put itself in a position to take the lead.

The ‘Cats found themselves down 13 with 7:50 remaining in the game. A steal followed by a three-point play by Stevie Taylor sparked a 17-4 run by Ohio. The five-minute stretch included seven Falcons turnovers and the tie score was the closest Ohio got to a lead before the turnover bug bit the Bobcats and Bowling Green was able to pull out to a commanding lead late in the game to finish off Ohio.

The ‘Cats have lost two consecutive games for the first time this season and can attribute the losses to simple mistakes and misfortunes. Similar to Robert Morris, Bowling Green was finding the bottom of the net. The Falcons shot 52 percent to Ohio’s 38.

“People miss shots,” forward Ivo Baltic said. “I have faith in all of our guys and we’ll make those shots. You can’t shoot that bad all season.”

Baltic finished the game with 14 points, good enough for second on the team behind D.J. Cooper, who had 15. Walter Offutt was the third Bobcat in double figures with 11 points. Even with a solid output, Offutt’s struggles shooting are evident. He was 0-4 from behind the arc. The Bobcats shot 4-20 from three, which makes them 7-46 in the past two games.

Groce says the team’s effort has been there, but the execution and the sheer toughness are lacking. It seemed as if every time Ohio gained a little bit of momentum, a turnover or missed shot would set them back for a hearty portion of time. It was as if Ohio took one step forward and two steps back.

“I thought [Bowling Green] were better,” Groce said. “They were tougher. I thought they imposed their will for the majority of the game. I was disappointed in our toughness.”

Ohio struggled to earn the lead in the game. The Bobcats’ last lead came with 18:54 left to play, when they led by one. Ohio's largest lead came two minutes into the game after the ‘Cats started off on a six-point run.

It’s safe to say the momentum didn’t last long. Ohio can only hope it finds the winning formula again before heading into the heart of MAC play. With fifteen conference games left to play before the postseason tournaments, the ‘Cats will look to shake this one off in a hurry. Buffalo comes to Athens Wednesday night as Ohio looks to bounce back on the road to a MAC title.