ATHENS — The beat continued for the Bobcats on Tuesday night.
And that, most decidedly, was not a good thing for Ohio.
Eastern Michigan shook off a 12-0 deficit at the start, led by as many as 20 points twice in the second half, and eventually settled for 66-57 win over the Bobcats inside the Convo.
The Eagles (11-13, 5-6 Mid-American Conference) never trailed in the second half after using a 19-3 run early in the second half to forge a 52-32 lead with 10:35 left.
Elijah Minnie had 19 points to lead EMU, while James Thompson IV piled up 18 points and 15 rebounds for the Eagles. Point glad Paul Jackson had 10 points, seven assists and four steals.
Ohio (11-12, 3-8 MAC) lost its four straight game and was held under 60 points for the fifth time in its last eight games.
Sophomores Jason Carter and Teyvion Kirk had 18 points apiece for Ohio, and combined to shoot 15 of 26 (57.7 percent) from the field. The rest of the Bobcat roster combined for 21 points on 8 of 29 (27.6 percent) shooting.
EMU led 63-43 with 2:51 left after Thompson’s post-up bucket and Ohio seemed destined for a season-low point total. But the Bobcats landed a late flurry — 14 points over the span over 75 seconds — to pull to within 64-57 with 29.1 seconds left.
But a steal, and two Jackson free throws — plus a 3-point miss for Ohio — wrapped it up.
Ohio changed its starting lineup for the first time in weeks — redshirt freshman forward Ben Vander Plas replaced junior guard Antonio Cowart Jr. in the starting five and joined Kirk, Carter and seniors Gavin Block and Doug Taylor.
The move sparked the Bobcats out to a 12-0 start. But EMU outscored Ohio 31-12 over the final 14 minutes of the half to take the lead for good. Kirk’s 3-pointer gave the Bobcats their last lead at 24-22, but EMU regained it immediately on Minnie’s triple from the corner on the next possession.
Ohio set the tone early with a new starting lineup, and a 12-0 start, but never administered a ‘kill shot.’
EMU needed more than seven minutes to make its first field goal, but once the Eagles got on track they took control. EMU responded to the 12-0 hole with a 16-4 run capped by Minnie’s 3-pointer from the left corner.
Carter’s 3-point play gave Ohio a 19-16 lead, but back-to-back 3s from Kevin McAdoo and Minnie put the Eagles up 25-24 and EMU built a 31-24 lead by the half.
Excluding the first six minutes, EMU outscored Ohio 31-12 over the final 14 minutes of the half.
Ohio shot 47.8 percent in the half, but undercut its own efforts with nine turnovers. Carter and Kirk each had nine points in the first 10 minutes, and Minnie scored 10.
Ohio was in the game early in the second half, down just 33-29, but EMU caught fire and KO’d the Bobcats with a 19-3 run.
The Eagles hit eight of nine shots in the stretch including a trio of 3-pointers. Tariq Silver hit a pair to put EMU up 41-29.
After Block hit a 3 for Ohio, Thompson scored on a dunk, and Minnie rattled off seven points in a row. Minnie’s reverse dunk with 10:35 left made it 52-32 and Ohio’s fate was sealed. The Bobcats missed nine of 10 shots in the pivotal sequence.
Ohio’s first six minutes were a clinic on how to attack the 2-3 zone. Hard cuts to key points, sharp passes, and strong, aggressive finishes around the rim highlighted the Bobcats’ best stretch of the night.
Jason Carter played angry, almost, most of the way. and finished with 18 points, four rebounds and four assists. He was clearly with maximum effort and a high level of intensity, and the pain of the loss showed on his face afterward.
Teyvion Kirk was pretty good in his own right. Yes, he had another six turnovers but at least two were the result of plays not being made by a teammate on the receiving end of a pass. He scored 18 points on just 11 shots, and handed six rebounds and four assists.
Ohio moved the ball at times, and notched 18 assists on 23 made field goals. It’s one of the better ratios of the season for the ‘Cats.
The shooting, especially from the outside, remained substandard (7-28 from 3, 25 percent). More disturbing for the ‘Cats was that the players lost a substantial chunk of their confidence once the misses starting piling up. Instead of attacking the rim, too many times Ohio players opted for a kick-out pass or a close pass to a teammate.
That lack of aggression showed up with the 39 deflections the Eagles logged — according the coaching staff’s stat-keeping on the bench.
Defensively, Ohio continues to have issues containing dribble penetration. PG Paul Jackson had an off game, but created opportunities off the bounce for teammates.
And speaking of aggression, Ohio was out shot 15 to 6 at the foul line in a home game.
Ohio hits the road for its next two games, and the swing will represent the toughest travel week of the season. The Bobcats will be at Central Michigan ((16-8, 5-6 MAC) for a 4:30 p.m. start on Saturday in Mount Pleasant. Next Tuesday, Ohio will finally gets its first look at nationally ranked Buffalo (21-3, 9-2 MAC) in a 7 p.m. start at Alumni Arena.
Around the MAC
In the biggest game in the conference on Tuesday, Buffalo survived a trip to the JAR and pinned the first home loss of the season on Akron, 76-70.
Bowling Green (17-7, 9-2 MAC) overcame an early deficit and downed visiting CMU, 79-72.
And Western Michigan (7-17, 1-10 MAC) picked up its first MAC win of the year over slumping Northern Illinois, 76-74.
EMU 66, Ohio 57
EMU 66 (11-13, 5-6 MAC)
Elijah Minnie 8 0-1 19, James Thompson IV 6 6-8 18, Boubacar Toure 0 0-0 0, Paul Jackson 3 4-4 10, Tariq Silver 3 0-0 8, Kevin McAdoo 2 0-0 5, Ty Groce 2 1-2 6, Jalen King 0 0-0 0; TOTALS 24 11-15 66; 3-point goals — 7-21 (Minnie 3-9, Silver 2-4, Groce 1-2, McAdoo 1-3, Jackson 0-3).
OHIO 57 (11-12, 3-8 MAC)
Jason Carter 7 3-3 18, Ben Vander Plas 3 0-0 9, Doug Taylor 3 0-0 6, Teyvion Kirk 8 1-3 18, Gavin Block 1 0-0 3, Jason Preston 0 0-0 0, Antonio Cowart Jr. 1 0-0 3, Connor Murrell 0 0-0 0; TOTALS 23 4-6 57; 3-point goals — 7-28 (Vander Plas 3-8, Kirk 1-3, Carter 1-4, Cowart Jr. 1-5, Block 1-6, Preston 0-2).
TEAM STATISTICS/INDIVIDUAL LEADERS
Field goals — Eastern Michigan 24-53 (.453), 3-point goals 7-21 (.333); Ohio 23-55 (.418), 3-point goals 7-28 (.250); Free throws — EMU 11-15 (.733), Ohio 4-6 (.667); Rebounds — EMU 31/8 offensive (Thompson 15); Ohio 30/10 offensive (Kirk 6); Assists — EMU 14 (Jackson 7), Ohio 18 (Carter/Kirk 4); Steals — EMU 10 (Jackson 4), Ohio 1; Blocks — EMU 3 (Minnie 2), Ohio 3 (Taylor 3); Turnovers — EMU 10, Ohio 15; Personal fouls — EMU 10, Ohio 15; Attendance — 5,522; Technical fouls — None.