Bobcats Grind Out Win Over Arkansas-Pine Bluff

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It was closer than they may have liked, but the Ohio men’s basketball came away with the 69-60 win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff Tuesday night in the Convo.

The Bobcats (2-1, 0-0) have started slow all season, and that was the case once again against the Golden Lions (1-5, 0-0). Ohio committed 13 turnovers in the first half, but still managed to hold a 2-point lead at the half.

The Bobcats had a clear advantage inside with their size, but struggled with foul trouble early on. Senior forward Maurice Ndour and sophomores Wadly Mompremier and Antonio Campbell each had two fouls in the first period, and that limited their effectiveness in the paint.

In the second half, Ohio started to turn things around, and that was thanks in large part to Ndour and fellow senior Javarez “Bean” Willis. Ndour scored 13 of his game-high 21 in the second, and pulled down 6 of his 12 boards in the latter period. Willis scored 16 points in the game on 4-of-7 shooting from behind the arc, and 10 of those came after halftime.

“I love to play defense,” Willis said. “I feed off of it, so I feel like if I’m having a good defensive night then that will help me knock down shots.”
The inside presence of the Bobcats came alive more in the second half. Ohio outrebounded UAPB 43-34, and the whole team contributed to that. Ndour had his 12, but Campbell had seven, Willis had five and Treg Setty chipped in with three.

“I think we’re pretty big,” Ndour said. “Today we were just aggressive on the offensive boards, and on defense too.”

The second half was full of runs from both sides. The Golden Lions started the second period with a 9-2 run to take a five point lead. After some traded baskets, the Green and White went on a 7-0 run of their own. It came down to the final run of the game to separate these two. With the game tied and 4:58 remaining in the game, Ohio went on a 15-6 run to put the game away.

“I would much rather learn from a win than from a loss,” Ohio coach Saul Phillips. “We found a way.”

The Bobcats couldn’t seem to get into a flow on the offensive end, and a lot of that came down to turnovers. They coughed up the ball 20 times over the course of the game. Those turnovers prevented any rhythm from being developed on offense.

“We are starting to move the ball a lot better in practice, and we don’t move it worth a darn in the game right now,” Phillips said. “That’s the key. That unlocks everything for us.”

The main thing keeping Ohio in the game was its defense. The Golden Lions shot just under 33 percent from the field throughout the game, and that was a direct result of Ohio’s resilience on the defensive end. The Bobcats forced 15 turnovers of their own, and created a lot of tough looks for UAPB.

That defense, along with hitting 21-of-27 free throws, lifted the Bobcats over the final five minutes of the game.

“What I see is a group that has big potential,” Phillips said, “if we continue to develop, and if we continue to listen.”