Hunter, Bobcats rise to the occasion in 78-68 win over Miami< < Back to sports
ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB) – Siblings Weekend plus arch-rival Miami in town equals an atmosphere unlike any other.
The Ohio Bobcats (12-11, 4-6 MAC) looked to end their two-game skid at the Convocation Center, a place where they only suffered one loss heading into Saturday’s matinee.
They did that with a hard fought 78-68 victory against their most colossal conference foe.
Battle of the “bricks”
Defense took center stage for the majority of the first half. Both teams shot a combined 5-of-24 (21%) from beyond the arc and had nine turnovers. Dwight Wilson III led the way for Ohio with 10 points and five rebounds.
His efforts proved to be pivotal for the home team as they took a four-point cushion into the locker room.
“[I was] just trying to get easy [baskets]. [I’m] always being aggressive. [I was] just trying to get to my spots and convert.”
The Bobcats finished the first half shooting just 39% from the field as a team while Miami shot 36%.
Evening the odds
Wilson III was the only Bobcat to reach double-digit scoring at the intermission. That changed in the second half. Jaylin Hunter and Elmore James provided a dynamite one-two punch to increase the lead, combining for the team’s first eight points. Ohio jumped out to a seven-point lead and the fans at the Convocation Center roared in unison.
The home team used that momentum to their advantage.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to play in a lot of rivalries. There’s nothing better than this one,” head coach Jeff Boals said after the win. “[Our guys] stepped up [and] embraced the atmosphere. I thought they got a lot of energy from the crowd and finished it off.”
Ohio shot a much improved 52% from the floor. Despite continuing their struggles from the perimeter (2-of-6), the Bobcats went a spectacular 15-of-17 at the charity stripe.
There was one player in particular who shined under the Convo’s bright lights.
On the Hunt
Ohio turned on the ignition after an underwhelming first frame. And Jaylin Hunter took the driver’s seat.
Hunter led the way for the Bobcats, scoring 15 points in the second half. He took command of the offense with his dominating pull-up jumper. When it was all said and done, Hunter finished the afternoon with a team-high 23 points and four assists.
This is the second consecutive game Hunter has scored over 20 points.
“I’m just getting more comfortable in the system,” Hunter explained. “[I’m] continuing to watch film and sticking to my routine. The support from the guys [means] a lot to me. So I just want to return the favor for them.”
The junior from Manchester, CT is not the only one who is noticing improvement.
“He’s done a great job taking care of the ball,” Jeff Boals said. “He’s playing at a better pace and making better reads.”
Boals remains undefeated (6-0) against Miami since becoming Ohio’s head man in 2019.
The Bobcats now sit at a record of 12-11 with a total of four conference wins.
Boals and his team hit the road for a matchup with Northern Illinois on Tuesday night. They will then return to Athens for another clash against the Akron Zips on Friday.