Ohio Men Making Strides Despite Loss

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Ohio Men’s Basketball remains winless on the road this season after Wednesday night. The Bobcats fell at the hands of Atlantic-10 foe UMass 85-76.

Head coach Jim Christian insisted that there were positives to take from Ohio’s fourth loss in five games.

“We’ll figure it out,” said an optimistic Coach Christian after the game. “I think we did make some strides in terms of the way we approached and how we competed tonight.”

Junior guard Jesse Morgan led the Minutemen with 35 points – 24 in the first half, setting the William D. Mullins Memorial Center record for points in a half.

Ohio eluded a slow start as it built an 18-6 lead out the gate. Walter Offutt, D.J. Cooper and Nick Kellogg hit three-point shots on three of four possessions to highlight the Bobcats’ early run.

UMass then exploded offensively to the tune of a 23-1 run, turning a 12-point deficit into a 10-point lead in just over five minutes of game time. During the run Morgan scored 16 points.

Ohio ended the half with 12 turnovers, allowing 15 points off giveaways.

The Bobcats tied the game at 53 five minutes into the second half behind another string of threes from Kellogg, Offutt and Cooper, but an 11-0 UMass run put the Minutemen up 66-55 before the under 12-minute media timeout.

UMass held the lead for the remainder of the game.

“To beat a good team on the road everybody’s got to play well and we just got a couple guys struggling right now,” said Christian. “It’s frustrating but we got to keep working with it.”

Cooper finished with 23 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds and moved into fifth place on the all time Ohio scoring list in a losing effort.

Offutt added 18 points, and Kellogg scored 15 in just 22 minutes.

Sophomore transfer Kadeem Green played 12 minutes and scored eight points on 4-of-5 shooting in his second game since becoming eligible. Jon Smith played only 11 minutes due to foul trouble.

“I thought (Kadeem Green) played well. And that will be good because it will be another guy who can compete,” said Christian. “We have to have more competition up front, and guys got to start being consistent up front…that really hurt us tonight.”

Ohio was not on the losing end of the rebounding battle for just the fourth time this season, as each team gathered 35 boards. The Bobcats did, however, allow 35 free throws while only getting to the line 10 times.

Ivo Baltic attempted his first free throws since last February – over 600 minutes – at the 13:56 mark in the second half. The senior missed both attempts and ended the game with just two points to go with 10 rebounds and nine assists. Baltic still has not made a free throw in 21 games.

Ohio returns home Saturday for a game against Maryland Eastern Shore.

“We’ll be fine,” said Christian. “This was the same situation we were in at Memphis, we battled and fought with a team that’s as good as Memphis and came back and answered runs.

“We got to keep getting better; we got to keep making strides.”

Tipoff for Saturday’s game is scheduled for 2 p.m.