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Ohio Overcomes Slow Start to Beat Ball State 71-60

Jan. 8, 2006

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ATHENS, Ohio - Despite trailing by 10 points early in the second half, the Ohio men's basketball team pulled out a 71-60 victory over Ball State in Mid-American Conference play at the Convocation Center on Sunday.

The Bobcats (8-2, 2-0 MAC) used a balanced scoring attack to counter the one-two scoring punch of Ball State's Skip Mills and D'Andre Peyton. While Mills and Peyton finished with 22 and 15 points, respectively, eight Ohio players scored at least six points and only two - Leon Williams (Baltimore) with 13 and Sonny Troutman (Indianapolis) with 11 - reached double digits.

"It was one of those grind-it-out wins that you appreciate as a coach," said Bobcat head coach Tim O'Shea, who improved his career record to 70-60 with the victory. "It's these types of games that make your season - you don't play necessarily your best game but you still come out with a victory."

Ohio started the game by missing eight of its first 11 field-goal attempts. The Cardinals, meanwhile, made six of their first nine shots and led by as many as 10 points twice in the first half. Peyton and Mills combined to score 20 of Ball State's first 24 points and the Cardinals took a 32-26 lead into halftime.

For the half, Ball State shot 61.9 percent (13-of-21) compared to just 38.1 percent (8-of-21) for Ohio, including 0-for-5 from three-point range.

"Let's give Ball State some credit for coming in here and playing a heck of a game," said O'Shea. "In the first half, they made shots all over the place and they really tested us as much as we've been tested in The Convo in a while. We were fortunate that we got it going pretty good in the second half."

Following intermission, the Cardinals (4-6, 0-2 MAC) quickly pushed their advantage back to 10 and were still leading by nine, 49-40, with 13:02 to play. They would not score again until the 7:00 mark, though, as the Bobcats posted 14 unanswered points to take their first lead of the game.

A Whitney Davis (Ann Arbor, Mich.) three-pointer started the Ohio run and it was followed by a pair of free throws from both Antonio Chatman (Charlestown, Mass.) and Williams, a layup by Mychal Green (Columbus, Ohio) that tied the score, a trey by Jeff Halbert (White Bear Lake, Minn.), a free throw by Troutman and another free throw by Williams.

After a Tom Howland layup momentarily reduced the Bobcat lead down to three, Williams responded with layups on back-to-back trips down the court to push the advantage up to seven at 58-51 with 6:11 on the clock.

A few minutes later, a free throw by Davis capped a 22-4 run and Ohio led by nine with 2:23 remaining. The Bobcat edge never dropped below seven the rest of the way and reached as much as 13 in the final minute of action.

Following Williams (13) and Troutman (11) in scoring were Halbert with nine points, Davis and Jeremy Fears (Joliet, Ill.) with eight each, Green and Jerome Tillman (Beavercreek, Ohio) with seven apiece, Johnnie Jackson (Memphis) with six and Chatman with two. Williams - who fouled out with 5:11 left to play - and Jackson led Ohio on the boards with six rebounds each while Fears and Halbert each dished out four assists.

The Bobcats ended the game shooting 46.5 percent (20-of-43) from the floor and 38.5 percent (5-of-13) from behind the arc. Ball State managed 48.0 percent (24-of-50) from the field and 29.4 percent (5-of-17) from long distance. Ohio held a distinct advantage in free throws, making 26 of 35 attempts (74.3 percent), compared to 7-of-14 (50.0 percent) by the Cardinals.

"That's one of the strengths of this team and it was the same last year," O'Shea said about his team's performance from the charity stripe. "We dribble-drive so much that it's hard for teams to stay in front of us and we get to the free-throw line a lot."

Ohio will play its first conference road game of the season on Wednesday, Jan. 11, with a 7 p.m. contest at Eastern Michigan. The Bobcats will then return home for a 2 p.m. game against Central Michigan on Jan. 14. For ticket information, please contact the Ohio Athletics Ticket Office at 1-800-575-CATS or purchase your tickets online by CLICKING HERE.