Updated Sat, Jan 4, 2014 5:28 pm
For the second straight game, Ohio (10-3) needed a big second half to come away victorious as the Bobcats defeated UNC Asheville (6-8) 79-70 on the road.
Unlike the Bobcats’ previous game, though, they did not run away with it in the second half. In fact, Ohio trailed UNC Asheville for the majority of the game. The Bulldogs led 43-31 at halftime thanks to a strong performance from freshman guard Andrew Rowsey, who had 18 points in the first half.
Rowsey made three 3-pointers, two of which were heavily contested, in the span of only five possessions. Fueled by those Rousey 3-pointers, the Bulldogs went on a 12-0 run, pushing their lead out to 26-14. Ohio was unable to cut into that 12-point lead, and went into halftime trailing 43-31.
Rowsey cooled off in the second half, however, scoring only seven points and finishing with 25.
Where the first half belonged to Rowsey and UNC Asheville, the second half belonged to Ohio. The Bobcats outscored the Bulldogs 48-27 in the second half thanks to standout performances from Nick Kellogg and Maurice Ndour.
Ndour scored six of the team’s first 9 points in the second half to cut Asheville’s lead to only three points at 43-40. Ndour finished the game with 24 points and 10 rebounds.
Ohio took its first lead of the second half with a little over 12 minutes left on an Antonio Campbell free throw that put Ohio up 47-46. Both teams went back and forth, trading baskets and trading leads until just over six minutes remained in the game.
With six minutes left, Kellogg drained a 3-pointer to tie the game at 60-60. Then on Ohio’s following offensive possession, Nick Kellogg drove into the middle of the lane and kicked the ball out to an open Stevie Taylor for a corner 3-pointer to take the 63-60.
After Taylor gave the Bobcats the lead, they did not look back. After a missed 3-point attempt from Rowsey, Ndour found Jon Smith for a dunk to give Ohio a five-point lead.
Several possessions later with Ohio leading by only one point, Nick Kellogg again came up big for his team. He drove the middle of the lane, but this time he did a jump-stop, gathered himself, and went up strong for a nice finish over a defender.
Ohio salted the game away with free throws coming from Kellogg, Taylor and Travis Wilkins. Kellogg finished the game with 23 points on 7-of-12 shooting.
Ohio also received a nice contribution from T.J. Hall off the bench. Hall 12 points on 3-for-7 shooting from the field and 6-of-7 shooting from the free throw line.
Ohio is now 6-0 when Hall scores more than 10 points. Hall stepped up after teammate Ricardo Johnson went down in the first half with an apparent right leg injury. Johnson went up along the baseline, and when he landed, his foot got caught underneath him. Johnson was then carried to the locker room.
In the second half, Johnson returned to the bench wearing a walking boot. The extent of his injury is unknown at this time.
Ohio will open up conference play Wednesday when it travels to the Memorial Athletic and Convocation Center to take on the Kent State Golden Flashes (9-4), opening Mid-American Conference play.