Updated Mon, Feb 10, 2014 11:22 am
The Cardiac ‘Cats did it again Saturday, erasing a double digit deficit for the third time in four games to come away with an 82-75 win against Miami in the Battle of the Bricks.
Ohio (17-6, 7-3 MAC) overcame a 13-point deficit on the strength of Travis Wilkins’ white-hot shooting performance. Wilkins finished with a career-high 20 points on a 6 for 8 3-point clip.
From the 11:25 mark on, the Bobcats outscored Miami 39-20. Wilkins led the charge, scoring 11 of his 20 points during that stretch. The senior guard played the majority of the second half after starting forward T.J. Hall picked up his fourth foul early in the half. With Wilkins shooting so well, though, there was no need to put Hall back in the game.
“He’s played well for about two straight months,” coach Jim Christian explained. “He does everything he’s asked to do every day.”
With Ohio trailing 59-53, Nick Kellogg drove baseline and fired the ball to Wilkins for a 3-pointer in the corner. That shot ignited an 8-0 run in which Wilkins scored every point for Ohio.
“When Travis gets going, it’s a huge lift,” Kellogg said. “Every time we gave it to him, I thought it was going up, and I thought it was going in.”
In addition to Wilkins’ spectacular second half performance, the Bobcats collectively picked up their energy on the defensive end. After halftime, Bobcat defenders closed out and contested shots that had been wide open in the first half.
“Once you can string a couple stops together, the crowd starts to get into it, and guys are a little more focused and a little more eager and hungry to get stops,” Kellogg said. “One stop kind of led to another, and we just tried to feed off that.”
After getting stops, the Bobcats pushed the ball and quickly got into their offense before Miami (9-12, 5-5) could get back and set up the 2-3 zone that gave Ohio fits in the first half.
With about five minutes left in the game, Jon Smith lobbed a pass over a defender to Maurice Ndour, who then threw down a thunderous dunk over a couple Miami defenders to give Ohio a 62-61 lead. Ndour finished the game with 14 points and eight rebounds.
Ndour was one player that was seriously affected by the 2-3 zone that Miami played in the first half, as it did not allow him to attack the rim. However, when Miami switched to man-to-man, Ndour was able to get position down low and finish the easy looks.
Kellogg put together a big second half as well, scoring 14 of his career-high 27 points after halftime. After Ndour’s slam, Kellogg drained back-to-back 3-pointers to give Ohio a 68-65 lead and send the crowd at the Convo into a frenzy.
The curious case of Ohio’s defense continued in the first half Saturday, as it allowed the RedHawks to score 47 points in the first half while shooting 53.8 percent from the floor and 70 percent from 3-point range. The Bobcats were on pace to give up 90 points for the third straight game.
“If you don’t play well in stretches, teams take advantage of it in this league,” Christian noted.
Ohio’s perimeter defense looked slow as it could not keep up with Miami shooters moving without the ball and running off screens.
Ohio now moves on to another big game, as it will travel to Toledo Wednesday to take on a Rockets squad that is eager for a rematch.