Calvin Mattheis | Ohio Athletics

Strong Second Half Propels Ohio Past Western Michigan

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An impressive offensive performance from Ohio resulted in a much needed 82-64 win over Western Michigan Tuesday night.

For much of the game, the teams were evenly matched. Both squads entered the game 1-3 in conference play, and each plays a physical style of basketball. The lead changed hands 6 times and the score was tied 5 times throughout the game. It wasn’t until the second half that Ohio really pulled away.

Tony Campbell scored Ohio’s first eight points on his way to yet another double-double. The last two games, Campbell found himself on the bench in foul trouble, but despite four fouls against Western, he finished the game with 16 points and bullied his way to 16 rebounds.

Jaaron Simmons provided the Bobcats with life in critical moments. After a 14-0 run by the Broncos, Simmons nailed two 3-pointers to spark some momentum for Ohio. In the second half, he scored eight straight points for the ‘Cats, including two more 3-pointers and a reverse layup around three defenders. He ended the contest with nine assists, five rebounds and a game-high 24 points.

Two more Bobcats ended the night in double figures, as Gavin Block recorded 16 points and Kenny Kaminksi racked up 14. Ohio’s bench also outscored Western’s bench 28-15.

Defensively, Ohio finally showed some inconsistency. It held Western to 34 percent from the field and 22 percent from behind the arc. The ‘Cats were also able to visibly frustrate the Broncos with their defense, forcing two shot clock violations in the first half.

“We’re lightyears away from where we were the other night,” Saul Phillips said about his team’s positive progression since Saturday. “It takes a game like Kent to really wake you up and show you what you were doing wrong. We needed to do the little things better, and that’s what we did tonight.”

Western’s Thomas Wilder and Tucker Haymond, ranked fourth and fifth in scoring in the MAC, finished with 21 and 15, respectively. No other Broncos scored over eight points.

The ‘Cats did not need much defense the way they lit it up in the second half, scoring 47 points in the final frame. Western found themselves early in the first half, but after regaining the lead just minutes later, the Bobcats could not be stopped. A Block pump-fake and drive by two defenders for a nice bucket at the rim, a Simmons dish to a wide open Mike Laster for a two-handed slam, and a vicious block by Campbell were key plays in a spectacular second half performance from the Green and White.

“This is a step in the right direction,” Phillips said. “If you can grab an 18-point win in this league, you take that and run with it. But we need to keep getting better.”

Ohio looks to reach .500 in conference play when it takes on Central Michigan on Saturday.