Updated Wed, Nov 21, 2012 6:25 pm
Ohio remained undefeated to start the season, but not without a fight from Hampton. The Pirates pushed the Bobcats for all 40 minutes, but Ohio pulled out a 75-67 victory. The win was Ohio’s first by less than 20 points this season.
“To me,” said head coach Jim Christian, “as I told the team in the locker room, the season started tonight because we got tested.”
Walter Offutt led the way for Ohio with 23 points on the night. Offutt also added four rebounds, three assists and three steals.
Ohio started off slow, the offense from the past two games coming to a screeching halt. Hampton earned two consecutive stops to start the game – played in front of a thin crowd with many students leaving for Thanksgiving break Tuesday.
The Pirates’ Dwight Meikle started the scoring with a layup plus the foul, opening up an early 10-6 lead for Hampton. Ohio’s first three baskets came by way of the three-pointer and the Bobcats found themselves settling for poor shots.
The ‘Cats found rhythm by pushing the ball closer to the basket. Ohio began a short run with two free throws from Reggie Keely followed by a pair of drives from Offutt leading to layups.
Offutt tore through the defense on his way to 15 first half points. The Bobcats, with help from Offutt, went on a 20-2 run to end the half with a 44-27 lead.
“We were getting stops,” said Offutt on the team’s success to close out the half. “That was the key to everything.”
Fouls and frustration plagued the start of the second half for Ohio. 15 fouls, 10 on the Bobcats including two technicals – one on Keely and one on Ivo Baltic – were called in the first eight minutes of the half. There was a foul nearly every 30 seconds. The technical foul on Keely came just after Ohio earned the ball back on a steal.
“When you got a stop, you got the ball back, then you get a technical foul,” said Christian, “you’re giving them life. I thought we gave them life too many times tonight.
Ohio managed to maintain a lead no less than eight for the remainder of the game. Despite the Bobcats’ struggles to keep Hampton down in the second half, they continued to do just enough to put the Pirates away in the end.
The ‘Cats received major contributions on the scoreboard from Offutt and Baltic. Baltic finished with 16 points.
A cause for concern for Ohio came in the rebounding game. The Bobcats were outrebounded by 17, allowing 20 offensive rebounds.
“15 Division I basketball players,” said Christian, “this isn’t their first day of basketball. Everyone knows when the shot goes up, you’ve got to block out. So it becomes a mindset.”
Ohio’s next opponent, Richmond, averages 36 rebounds per game and has outrebounded its competition by more than three boards per game.
Ohio received a wakeup call from Hampton and perhaps one it needed before heading into the beef of its non-conference schedule. The Bobcats take on Richmond Saturday at 2 p.m. in the Convocation Center.