Saul Ball Begins With 82-69 Exhibition Victory Over Marietta College

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Saturday’s home exhibition matchup with Marietta was closer than the Ohio men’s basketball team would have liked, but the Bobcats ultimately came away with the victory 82-69 in front of a huge crowd on Dad’s Weekend.

Maurice Ndour and Treg Setty came alive in the second half, giving the team the spark they needed to pull away and get the win. Their energy helped get the crowd back into the game. After only scoring two points in the first half on 1-6 shooting, Ndour erupted in the second. He finished the game with 18 points and made seven of his last eight attempts to go along with a team high nine rebounds.

The game started how one would expect, as Stevie Taylor hit a three from the corner to put Ohio up 3-0, then Ndour had a huge slam on the next possession, making it 5-2. From there, the Bobcats seemed to fall asleep and take their Division III opponents for granted.

“You couldn’t pick a worse start,” said head coach Saul Phillips. “But they held together. That’s good, because guess what. It isn’t going to be the last bump in the road this year, I promise you that.”

Marietta came out firing from behind the arc, converting on four of their first seven attempts from deep. Taylor was the only thing keeping the Bobcats in the game over the first few minutes of the game. He converted on three back-to-back driving lay-ups and scoring all 15 of his points in the first half.

The Pioneers came out with a ton of energy, and that showed with their eight second-chance points in the first half to go along with six three-pointers. The Pioneers led by as much as 14 points in the first, and it looked like they were going to run away with the game.

“That was a team that came out and took it to us for a while,” said Phillips. “They outworked us for some rebounds.”

With 6:52 left in the first, the Ohio defense stepped up. Marietta finished the half making just one of their last eight shots and turning the ball over five times. The defensive adjustment allowed Ohio to close the gap to 40-37 heading into the locker room.

The second half is where the Bobcats got rolling. Defensive pressure by Javarez “Bean” Willis gave the Marietta offense some trouble, and Ndour converted on the offensive end. Ndour scored 11 of Ohio’s first 19 points in the second half, including a three point play with 17:38 left in the game that gave the Bobcats their first lead since the 15:44 mark in the first.

After settling for outside jumpers in the first, Ndour and the rest of the team started getting the ball into the paint and getting a lot of higher percentage looks at the hoop.

As the second half went along, Ohio finally began to pull away thanks to the play of Setty and Ndour. The energy of the Pioneers was still there, but the Bobcats figured out how to deal with it, and Marietta started to wear down.

Ultimately, the Bobcats came away with victory, but there is still plenty of room for them to improve going forward.

“That’s why it’s important you do an exhibition like this,” said Phillips. “You got to see kids under the lights a little bit.”

The season officially gets underway next Saturday, November 15 at 2 p.m. when Appalachian State comes to the Convocation Center.