Updated Thu, Nov 29, 2012 12:31 am
In a battle of defending conference champions, Ohio kept its perfect record alive in dramatic fashion Wednesday night with a 69-64 win over Atlantic-10 opponent St. Bonaventure. Ohio head coach Jim Chrisitan said after the game, "The only thing you can hope to be after six games is 6-0." Ohio's hopes became a reality once more, but Wednesday's victory was a tough one for the Bobcats.
Ohio and St. Bonaventure appeared evenly matched for much of the first half. The Bobcats struggled to shoot the ball early on, but found momentum as the half progressed. Ohio finished the half with a 37-29 lead on 44 percent from the field and 40 percent from three. The Bobcats also won the turnover battle in the first half with 11 takeaways to just five giveaways.
St. Bonaventure hung around in the first half thanks to Eric Mosley and Chris Johnson. Mosley was a perfect 4-for-4 from beyond the arc with 12 points, and Johnson added 7 points on 2-of-3 shooting. Overall, the Bonnies shot 50 percent from the field and 6-for-7 on three-point field goals in the first half.
Late in the first half, Ohio went on a small run to take early control of a game that was neck and neck. The Bobcats trailed 23-22 at the 5:40 mark in the first half when Walter Offutt hit a three to give the Bobcats the lead. Ohio would gain three points on each of its next two possessions as Nick Kellogg and Offutt converted to bring the fans in the Convo to their feet. Ohio ended the half on a 16-6 run to take a nine point lead into the locker room.
Bonnies Buckle Down:
Unlike Ohio's previous opponents, St. Bonaventure did not fall apart in the second half. The Bonnies continued to find quality shots while disrupting Ohio's offensive flow. The two teams traded punched for several minutes as St. Bonaventure slowly chipped away at Ohio's lead. This trend continued until the 11 minute mark. After an Ivo Baltic jumper, the Bonnies went on an 11-0 run to take a 56-53 lead, their first lead since Ohio's run to end the first half.
Cooper Starts Hot, Goes Cold:
D.J. Cooper was a catalyst for Ohio's offense in the first half, scoring eight points and assisting on five buckets before the intermission. But the senior found it increasingly difficult to get things going in the second half. Cooper faced increased ball pressure and double teams off screens and showed some indecision for the first time this season. During a stretch of six minutes while St. Bonaventure was on its run, Cooper missed two shots and turned the ball over three times, collecting three fouls in the process. Ohio's career assists and steals leader showed slumped body language and took a seat on the bench for his poor play. He would figure it out though…
Down to the Wire / In Coop We (Still) Trust:
With two minutes to go, Ohio trailed 62-61. Cooper came off a couple ball screens at the top of the key and skidded a bounce pass to Jon Smith, rolling to the baseline for an easy two-hand flush. The play gave Ohio the lead again and ignited the Convo. On the ensuing possession, Johnson converted a runner in the lane to give St. Bonaventure the lead once more. But Cooper answered with a spot up three from 25 feet that hit nothing but the bottom of the net to give Ohio the lead for good. He added a pair of clutch free throws a possession later to seal the deal.
Ohio's Jim Christian commented on coaching the first close game of the season for the Bobcats. "Close games are team wins because every play is so magnified and every little close out, every little pass becomes a big play," said Christian. "That's the beauty of playing games like this."