Gavin Block, Ohio University Forward, attempts to tip the ball against Eastern Michigan players at the Convocation Center on January 14, 2016. (Camille Fine/WOUB)

Ohio falls to Clemson in First Game of Charleston Classic

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Despite shooting 50 percent from behind the arc in the first half, the Ohio Bobcats fell to the Clemson Tigers 81-76 in their first game of the Charleston Classic Thursday night.

The short-staffed Bobcats couldn’t keep up with Clemson as the Tigers used their size to score in the paint and draw fouls to get to the line. With 28 trips to the free throw line, the Tigers scored 61 of their 81 points from either inside the paint or from the charity stripe.

Although the score was within 10 points for a majority of the game, Clemson led for more than 34 of the 40-minute contest. Clemson forwards Donte Grantham and Elijah Thomas led the Tigers with 20 and 17 points respectively. On the other side of the ball, junior forward Gavin Block led the Bobcats with 22 points and 10 rebounds.

Ohio freshman guard Teyvion Kirk gave the Bobcats their only lead of the game with a quick pair of layups to start the game. While the Bobcats never trailed by more than three scores in the first half, they struggled with turnovers, 11. The Tigers took advantage of Ohio’s sloppy play, scoring 13 points off of turnovers in the opening half.

Going into halftime, the Tigers led the Bobcats 42-38, thanks to double-digit performances from Grantham, Thomas and junior guard Shelton Mitchell. The Tigers expanded their lead after the break, going on an 11-3 as they run in the first four minutes of the second half.

Although they didn’t commit any turnovers in the second half, the Bobcats shooting percentage dropped significantly compared to the first half. Ohio was able to keep the score close in the first half, by shooting a blistering 56.5 percent. But Ohio shot 39.5 percent in the second half. Clemson was able to build and maintain the lead.

With seven minutes remaining in the game, Clemson led by a game-high 16-points. As the game came to a close, Block and the Bobcats mounted a comeback and shaved the Tiger lead down to just four with about 30 seconds remaining. Despite Block’s 16 points in the final seven minutes, the Tigers hit their free throws to seal the 81-76 victory.

The Bobcats will face the Dayton Flyers in the second leg of the Charleston Classic Friday night at 7:00 p.m.