Bobcats battle Bonnies until whistle is blown

By John Kocsis

The Ohio Bobcats edged out the St. Bonaventure Bonnies 69-64 to win their 15th consecutive game at home.

Overall the game was sloppy. The Bonnies had 20 turnovers and 21 fouls and the Bobcats turned the ball over 12 times to go along with their 22 fouls. The Bonnies shot 56% from the free throw line and the Bobcats shot 65%.

The Bobcats started off lethargically, until they hit a string of three consecutive three pointers with about five minutes to go in the first half. Going into the second half, the Bobcats led 37-29 and St. Bonaventure guard Eric Mosley was the high point man with 12 points. DJ Cooper had  eight first half points and four assists.

In the second half the Bobcats fell behind again, not regaining the lead until late in the half. After they lost the lead with 10 minutes in the half, they did not regain a multiple possession lead until there were 20 seconds left in the game.

There was a dog pile on the floor of the Convocation Center over a loose rebound that the Bobcats recovered, and after that, the game was sealed.

Mosley finished with 19 points and fellow guard Chris Johnson, who leads the Bonnies in average points per game, had 17. Bonnie center Youssou Ndoye turned the ball over seven times in his two point and six rebound effort.

Cooper led the way for the Bobcats with 16 points, but Walter Ouffet scored 14 points and Nick Kellogg added 13. The top performer for the Bobcats may have been on the defensive end of the floor. Jon Smith, who scored six points and had four rebounds, had a total of four blocked shots and three steals.

The Bobcats, who are ranked 13th in the NCAA in field goal percentage, averaging 50.9% from the floor, shot 46% compared to the Bonnies 47.7%. St. Bonaventure was on fire from behind the arc, shooting  57.1% on 8-14 shooting—that was higher than their free throw percentage.

Ohio will travel to Moon, Pennsylvania to play Robert Morris Saturday Dec. 1.

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And so it begins

By Ryan Boyd

March 23rd, 2012, 3:40 left on the game clock: Thousands at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis erupt as the 13th-seeded Ohio Bobcats build a four-point lead over top-seeded North Carolina. ‘Cats supporters across the nation hold their breath as if they were being swallowed by a violent ocean wave.

What was originally considered an unrealistic chance at an all-time upset, perhaps even a miracle, was within grasp. The Bobcats could see the path to the regional final.

Then, within moments, it was gone. Walter Offutt missed one of the more memorable free throws in Ohio history and the Tarheels silenced the entire Ohio nation.

In the words of Dick Vitale, it’s heartbreak city, baby.

231 days later, the college basketball season has returned. The sneakers are laced, the Convocation Center is prepped for action and the ‘Cats have everyone back on the court – well, at least those that matter.

Consider this: Ohio brings back all five starters and more than 97 percent of the scoring, rebounding and assisting from last year’s team. In fact, the three players that departed accounted for just 54 points in 37 games.  I’m no math major, but I can tell you that those figures show their irrelevance.

D.J. Cooper leads the returners as one of the more dynamic point guards in the nation. Sure, I may be biased, but the numbers don’t lie. Cooper needs just 76 assists and 88 steals to become the all-time Mid-American Conference leader in each category. He will also (likely) finish in the MAC’s top 10 in career points scored. Simply put, he will end his career as arguably the greatest point guard in conference history – and almost certainly the best at Ohio University.

Behind Cooper is a wealth of depth and a number of returners who are built to succeed at different distinct parts of the game. Jon Smith is a lanky annoyance on the defensive end of the court. Nick Kellogg routinely arrives at the arena with a flamethrower strapped to his back as he ignites the three-point line. Stevie Taylor is a landmine waiting to explode with positive energy. And Offutt provides indispensable leadership on the court. The list goes on.

Now I realize the one missing part of the equation from a year ago is head coach John Groce. He took his talents to Illinois in what was a respectable move from the young, successful coach.

My thoughts? Don’t let the door hit you on the way out, Groce.

Yep, I said it. I wasn’t sold on Groce. There’s no denying that he put Ohio basketball on the map, and I may be a bit bitter that I won’t be shaking his hand after every home game. But realistically, his coaching strategy wasn’t fool proof – especially when a contest was in the closing seconds. How many Bobcat fans have gone bald from pulling their own hair out as Cooper heaves a desperation shot from half court… following a timeout. It was laughable.

And replacing Groce is a proven coach in Jim Christian. Statistically, he is the most successful coach in MAC history and he has taken a group of players above and beyond the ‘Cats accomplishments of last season. Even at a dismal TCU program, Christian built a commendable offensive club that put together an above .500 season in 2011-12. The guy knows what he is doing.

Joining Christian is a couple of transfers that will complete the Bobcats roster. Leading the charge is 6-foot-8 forward Kadeem Green, who left Missouri – yes, the nationally ranked Missouri Tigers – last spring to come to Athens. He will miss the first few weeks due to NCAA transfer rules, but upon his return the ‘Cats will have an absolute steal. Green is an impressive physical specimen with terrific length and finishing ability on the fastbreak. In other words, he sounds like Cooper’s newest top weapon.

With the addition of Green, the Bobcats finally have all of the makings of a dominant mid-major basketball team. Ohio will have a four-man rotation at the power forward position, which gives Christian some much-needed flexibility when there is foul trouble. Also, the ‘Cats have a plethora of solid shooters. Any college basketball follower knows that the three-point shot is the great equalizer, and that is brought to the table with Travis Wilkens, Kellogg, Offutt and Taylor. Most importantly, the Bobcats will be electric on defense. The ball pressure will be fierce and teams will be forced into poor decisions repeatedly. Don’t believe me? Ask Mercyhurst. They committed 32 turnovers in the exhibition game last weekend.

Admittedly, no season is completed on paper. Ohio should be favored in the majority of their contests and they have a wonderful opportunity to break the rankings in the early part of the season, but this will require strides as a team. The ‘Cats must improve their shooting percentage and rebounding if they hope to compete at a national level. In the matchup with North Carolina, the Tarheels won the rebounding battle, 55-27. It was ugly.

Furthermore, the struggles of being a mid-major team always include the fear that one bad loss could end a season. I mean, in the MAC, winning the conference is paramount to solidifying a spot in the NCAA Tournament. It doesn’t matter how talented this bunch is, they will have immense difficulties securing an at-large bid unless they beat both Memphis and Oklahoma, while losing to almost no one. It’s frustrating, but that’s the nature of the sport.

However, the potential for a letdown shouldn’t shield your excitement. Unlike college football, Ohio men’s basketball team is in contention for a National Championship. Every team in the nation is. That’s what makes basketball season so enjoyable.

The difference between the ‘Cats and most others in the NCAA, is that they have a very real shot to make a run. Ohio will have its chance at redemption. Mark it down.

Bobcats bounce back at home

By: Chris Saulnier

After losing their first game of the season in heartbreaking fashion on the road, Ohio University (8-1) dulled the pain by beating Eastern Michigan University (1-8) at home on Thursday night 45-14.

The Bobcats got off to a good start scoring first on a Beau Blankenship 2 yard run. However the defense allowed Eastern Michigan to strike back, tying the game with a 17-yard pass to Ryan Brumfield from quarterback Tyler Benz.

In the second quarter Tyler Tettleton collected two touchdown passes of his own, one to Chase Cochran and the other to Donte Foster. Those scores and a 25-yard Matt Weller field goal combined to give Ohio a 24-14 lead at halftime.

Eastern Michigan scored their second touchdown of the game after a rare Tettleton interception as his pass was tipped at the line. The interception was Tettleton’s second of the season.

In a back and forth third quarter, Ohio recorded the only score, as Donte Foster broke free for a 79-yard pass from Tettleton. This gave Ohio a comfortable 31-14 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

It took nearly ten minutes but eventually Ohio was able to score yet again when Ryan Boykin ran 13 yards untouched right up the middle of the field. Boykin collected 128 yards on 17 carries and a touchdown. Blankenship finished the day with 72 yards on 11 carries and a touchdown of his own.

Late in the fourth quarter Ohio punched in another score on a run from Daz’mond Patterson who ran 29 yards into the end zone and recorded his first career rushing touchdown. This sealed the victory giving Ohio a 45-14 lead with less than 2 minutes left on the clock.

Wide receiver Donte Foster had a career-high 164 receiving yards, which tied for eighth all-time at Ohio University. Tettleton finished the night 19/27 with 255 yards, 3 touchdowns, and an interception. This was the sixth time in his career that Tettleton has thrown 3 touchdowns in a single game.

Ohio’s next opponent will be Bowling Green State University (6-3) on November 7 at home in Athens. The game will have high conference ramifications, as each team is 4-1 in the MAC.

Field Hockey wins big on Saturday, loses nail-biter Sunday

By Paul Monnin

After beating up on the Ball State Saturday afternoon 7-0, the Bobcats failed to capitalize on several opportunities on Sunday and fell to 20th-ranked Michigan State 1-0 in overtime, making for an up-and-down weekend for Bobcat field hockey at Pruitt Field.

“We just try to stay very centered,” Head Coach Neil Macmillan said after Sunday’s loss. “You don’t want to get too excited after a game like yesterday, and then we don’t want to get too disappointed with a game like today.”

The Bobcats’ dominant performance Saturday was the product of an incredibly one-sided affair. The Bobcats racked up 26 shots and 16 penalty corners while allowing only one shot to the Cardinals. The team’s seven goals included senior Taylor Brown’s seventh of the season, two by senior Cathryn  Altdoerffer, and the first of junior Riley Higgins’ Bobcat career.

Unfortunately for the Bobcats, the celebration was short-lived. After fighting through two scoreless periods of regulation, the Bobcats fell in overtime on a goal by Michigan State sophomore Allie Ahern. The Bobcats failed to capitalize on a number of opportunities in the game, most notably their five penalty corners, two on which they failed to create a shot.

“We got those two missed opportunities, and those are things that are going to cost you in a tight game like that,” coach Macmillan noted. “It’s disappointing when you have an opportunity like that to win a game, but you’ve got to put the ball in the net.”

This weekend’s win and loss put the team at 7-6 as the regular season winds down. The Bobcats will celebrate the careers of their seniors before facing Missouri State next weekend in their home finale.

Bobcat volleyball steamrolls Buffalo as the winning streak reaches 5

By Paul Monnin

The Bobcat volleyball squad took care of business at Convocation Center Saturday night, winning their fifth straight match, extending their consecutive set streak to 15, and disposing of Buffalo in three sets (25-18, 25-13, 25-17).

The Bobcats maintained control throughout the match. After a 13-13 start, the Bobcats went on a 12-5 run to take the first set and never looked back. Outside hitters Kelly Lamberti and Chelsea Bilger led the way for the Bobcats on offense, combining for 12 kills and just 4 errors. Senior Leah Petrovich and sophomore Serena Warner also turned in notable performances, with Petrovich racking up 25 assists and Warner totaling seven kills and three aces.

“When we get our offense rolling, which we have had the past couple matches, we can be tough to beat,” head coach Ryan Theis remarked after the match. “We have one of the better defenses in the league. If we get our offense going, we’re pretty good.”

The Bobcats have demonstrated a strong preference to playing at home this season. The 10-8 Bobcats are 8-2 at home and have not lost at the Convocation Center since falling to Oregon on Sept. 2.

“It’s been nice to have these last four at home,” coach Theis said. “We seem to be pretty good in this building this year.”

The Bobcats sit in second place in the MAC East, one game behind Bowling Green. The Bobcats will face Toledo and Ball State on the road before returning home to face Northern Illinois on Oct. 19.

‘Cats Power Past Buffalo With Another Strong 2nd Half

By Taylor Greik

What do you think of when you see the Ohio Bobcats play on Saturday? I see a great second half team with very poor performances in the first half of each game. Well, nothing changed this Saturday folks. After another anemic first half, Ohio was able to knock off the Buffalo Bulls 38-31 at Peden Stadium.

Ohio was coming off of a very close call at new Mid-American Conference opponent UMass, as they squeaked out a 37-34 win on the road last week. Ohio has been dealing with several injuries on both sides of the ball, but it really shows on the defensive side of the ball as this defense continued to struggle on Saturday.

In the first quarter, Buffalo was able to establish a solid running attack right from the get-go. They slashed the Ohio defense for 131 yards on 18 carries in the first quarter alone. Ohio had no answer to Buffalo’s high powered offense as the Bulls recorded drives of 75 and 93 yards on their first two drives respectively. Ohio was in such a funk in the early going of this game that it took a 100 yard Daz Patterson kick return to get the ‘Cats back into the ball game. Before the long return for six, the Ohio offense was off to a slow start as well, as Quarterback Tyler Tettleton threw his first interception of the season and Beau Blankenship was only able to gain 14 yards on the ground.

After Patterson’s touchdown off of the kickoff, Ohio’s offense got a much needed jump start to their day, as they were able to put up two more touchdowns in the second quarter. Tettleton threw a 15 yard strike to receiver Tyler Futrell, and a few minutes later, Beau Blankenship found pay-dirt on a 14 yard dash to the house.  Ohio took a 21-14 lead into the half.

Ohio was able to put forth a strong second half after 30 minutes of play. Tyler Tettleton steadied the Ohio attack with 6/15 passing for 99 ids in the second half, while the Bobcats successfully unveiled their two headed monster of a running attack for the first time this year.

To start the third quarter, Ryan Boykin returned from injury and made his first appearance of the season. Boykin split the second half carries with Beau Blankenship, who came into the game ranked second in the entire nation for rushing yards. Beau still had the majority of the carries for the game, 26 carries for 89 yards and a touchdown, but Boykin had a huge impact in the game’s result as he racked up 64 yards rushing on six carries including two clutch fourth quarter touchdowns. Boykin’s second touchdown from 51 yards out with 5:56 left was the clincher for the Bobcats as Buffalo was never able to recover.

Now a lot of people may see that it is not really fair to pick apart this defense as they are dealing with a lot of injuries, but even the Ohio players feel that they need to play better. “We’re suffering with a lot of injuries, we just gotta step up and make a lot more plays as a team”, said Wide Receiver Bukari Bussey after the game, “We finally had depth which has always been a problem in the past.” To add to Ohio’s injury woes, Ohio lost one of their senior captains, TE Jordan Thompson, for the season with an apparent leg injury. Ohio has given up over 500 total yards of offense for the second consecutive week; they gave up 503 yards to Massachusetts last week and 501 yards to Buffalo on Saturday. 313 of those total yards for Buffalo were on the ground for an average of 5.6 yards per carry, totaling the most rushing yards allowed by Ohio so far this season. Buffalo dominated the time of possession by an 11:02 margin and they were 11-19 on third down plays. There seems to be a lot of holes to patch up on Ohio’s defense.

Regardless of Ohio’s shaky performance at home on Saturday, the ‘Cats are now 6-0, 2-0 in the MAC, and became the first team in the entire country to become bowl eligible. Any football coach and team in the nation would believe in the old saying “A win is a win” and coach Frank Solich relayed that after the game as he “couldn’t be more pleased with winning this game regardless of how we win them”.

The bobcats look to ride that belief into next week as they are lined up to face the Akron Zips (1-5, 0-2 MAC) for their homecoming game.

If Ohio can keep winning games they will be in good shape as far as the conference standings go and they will keep gaining more votes in the coaches polls and the Associated Press Top 25 rankings.