Slow start and cold shooting against LSU prove to be too much for Bobcats to overcome

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The Ohio Bobcats had a chance Wednesday night to earn a win over a Power-5 opponent in the LSU Tigers, but a slow start proved to be too much for the Bobcats to overcome as the Bobcats would ultimately fall to the Tigers 66-51.

The Tigers commanded this game from the start, jumping out to an early 9-0 lead in the first 2:14 of the game. Their lead would be extended to 14-0 before Ohio’s Jason Carter would score Ohio’s first two points with 11:27 left in the first half.

Prior to Carter’s bucket, Ohio was ice cold shooting from the field, starting 0-11. The Bobcats, who are synonymous for their precise shooting from deep, missed their first six shots from behind the arc.

When the Bobcats were able to find scoring, it happened in short bursts and from deep. Ohio was able to cut the LSU lead to 29-20 with one minute left in the first half after a quick 9-0 run by the Bobcats.

Ohio's Ben Vander Plas drives around a defender in the Bobcats' game against Kentucky on November 19, 2021.
Ohio’s Ben Vander Plas drives around a defender in the Bobcats’ game against Kentucky on Nov. 19, 2021. [Ethan Sargeant | WOUB]
Ohio’s start in the second half was the complete opposite of their start in the first half as they opened the half on a 15-3 run, tying the game at 37 with 13:58 left to play. After being held scoreless in the first half, Ben Vander Plas came alive to start the second. He would score all 12 of his team-high 12 points on four three-point baskets on that 15-3 run.

Unfortunately for the Bobcats, that would be as close as they would come to taking the lead. After an LSU timeout, the Tigers tightened up defensively and scored efficiently on offense as LSU would outscore Ohio 29-14 to close out the game.

“I think during the middle 20 minutes of the game, we did what we wanted to do, and I thought we got some good looks,” coach Jeff Boals said in a postgame radio interview. “When you play a great team like this, you have to play a complete 40 minutes.”

The Bobcats did not have their best effort shooting as they finished shooting only 27% from the field compared to LSU’s 47% shooting. Darius Days and Tari Eason led the way for the Tigers offensively as Eason would finish with a team-high 20 points and Days would finish with a double-double of 12 points and 13 rebounds.

Aside from Vander Plas, two other Bobcats scored in double figures. Jason Carter ended the night one rebound shy of a double-double with 10 points and Mark Sears, who played 38 minutes of the game, scored 11 points. Sears’ effort Wednesday night was enough to grab the attention of Coach Boals.

“To play 38 minutes, that’s a lot to ask,” Boals said. “He lost his uncle a couple days ago and for him to come back and play like he has, I love that kid.”

With the loss, Ohio falls to 5-2 on the season. A win Wednesday night would have surely been a great win for their resume come tournament time, but Ohio will look to rebound Saturday when they take on St. Francis (PA) at the Convocation Center.

“Hopefully we can get the Bobcat faithful and students to come out Saturday,” Boals said. “We’re going to prepare Thursday and Friday to win the game.”