Bobcats’ Memorable Season Ends With Loss To Creighton In Second Round< < Back to
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (WOUB) — The 2020-21 season was an experience unlike anything else. With limited fans in arenas, weekly COVID testing routines, mask-wearing and social distancing, no other season in college basketball history comes anything close to what the past five months have been like for programs.
While some teams felt the wrath of the rollercoaster ride of a season, others will remember the season for the good.
Like every other program, the Bobcats experienced ups and downs throughout the season. A 21-day shutdown in February and a ten-day quarantine just before the MAC Tournament are some of the downs. At the end, however, it will be the positive mark Ohio left on its players, coaches, students, alumni and fans across the world.
As a team entering the MAC Tournament as the No. 5 seed, few expected the Bobcats to win three games in three days. They did.
Ohio was the No. 13 seed in the NCAA Tournament and faced the tall task of facing the ACC regular season champion and 2019 national champion, Virginia. The Bobcats put the college basketball world on notice with an upset victory.
Ohio advanced to the Round of 32 on Monday night and played No. 5 Creighton at historic Hinkle Fieldhouse. Bobcat fans and Blue Jay fans’ cheers echoed throughout the 92-year old building and sounded like it was filled to the rafters.
As the final horn sounded, it was the Creighton fans chanting “C-U”. The Bobcats walked slowly off the court as their fans stuck around and applauded the players for one memorable journey that will forever be etched in OU men’s basketball history. Ohio (17-8) fell to Creighton (22-8), 72-58.
“You hate to see something like this end the way it ended, but that does not take away from anything that they’ve done,” Ohio head coach Jeff Boals said. “I told them afterwards as an alumnus, as a former player, ‘thank you’, and that I loved them. This team will be bonded for life. It hurts right now, but it’s going to be a great memory someday.”
The Bobcats were playing right with the Bluejays in the first 12 minutes of the game. The teams were tied at 19 as the under-eight media timeout hit, but Creighton dominated the remainder of the first half, outscoring Ohio, 20-5, the rest of the way.
“I think [Creighton’s] got three seniors, couple juniors, thousand point scorers, multiple guys that can make threes,” Boals said. “We missed shots, and they turned those into transition points. We turned the ball over, they turned those into transition points.”
Creighton led at the break, 39-24.
The Bobcats never really gained any traction in the second half as the Bluejays continued to pile on points.
Ohio tallied a season-low 58 points and shot just 32 percent from the field, including 7-of-30 from three. In addition, the Bobcats turned the ball over 14 times.
“When you dig yourself that big a hole against a really good offensive team, you spend so much energy getting back into it,” Boals said. “I think we cut it to ten. Shooting free throws, could have cut it to eight. I think it was nine at one point. And just came up short.”
The Blue Jays knew all about Jason Preston coming in and successfully limited Preston’s performance. He was held to just four points on 1-of-10 shooting and scored just one point in the second half.
“[Creighton was] really determined in the first half to get the ball out of my hands and ball screens, trap me hard,” Preston said. “I missed a lot of make-able shots tonight, a lot of floaters I should have finished. I missed all my threes. This is on me. I missed so many make-able shots.”
Dwight Wilson III led the Bobcats with 12 points. Lunden McDay and Ben Roderick also reached double figures with 11 and 10 points, respectively. Ben Vander Plas scored nine points and grabbed ten rebounds.
On the other side, Creighton drained 9-of-21 three-point attempts and shot 45 percent from the field.
Marcus Zegarowski led the Bluejays with 20 points. Christian Bishop recorded a double-double with 12 points and 15 rebounds.
Creighton advances to the Sweet 16 and will face top-seeded Gonzaga next weekend at a to-be-determined date and time.
The Bobcats will look to rewrite their success next season after they hang the banner at The Convo in November.
“To taste the success and win the MAC Tournament and come in the NCAA Tournament where no one’s played in either one, to do what they did, this will be the memory of a lifetime,” Boals said. “They’ll know that they can do it again, but it’s a lot of hard work. Winning is hard, and it’s not just showing up to practice, it’s a lot of different things. [This is] a special group.”