KALAMAZOO, Mich. - The Ohio University men's basketball team (11-5, 2-0 MAC) put together its best defensive effort of the season during a 61-59 victory over Western Michigan Saturday afternoon at University Arena.
The `Cats led by one (60-59) with less than 10 seconds to play in the game. Senior guard D.J. Cooper (Chicago, Ill.) connected on one of two free throws to make it a two-point advantage (61-59), and a 3-pointer at the horn by the Broncos' David Brown missed the mark as the `Cats held on for the victory.
Ohio has won three-straight and moves to 2-0 in the Mid-American Conference for the first time since the 2008-09 season. The Green and White handed the Broncos their first loss at home this season (4-1).
Cooper led the `Cats with 16 points, six assists and five rebounds. With 824 career assists, Cooper now ranks 24th all-time on the all-time NCAA Division I assists list.
Senior forward Reggie Keely (University Heights, Ohio) added 10 points on 4-of-7 shooting, while junior T.J. Hall (Gainesville, Fla.) tied a season-high with nine points, including two 3-pointers.
Ohio held Western Michigan (8-7, 0-2 MAC) to 28.3 percent shooting (15-53), the lowest mark for a Bobcats opponent since December 14, 2011. The `Cats shot 41.2 percent (21-51) from the floor and overcame a 26-13 edge for the Broncos in free throws.
A 3-pointer by Kellogg gave the `Cats an early 5-2 lead and Ohio held a 10-7 advantage at the 11:48 mark of the first half. After the Broncos battled back to take an 11-10 lead, Cooper nailed a transition 3-pointer and then fed Jon Smith for a dunk on back-to-back possessions to move Ohio back in front, 15-11.
Western Michigan retook the lead at 19-17 on two free throws by Brandon Pokley, and held a 24-23 edge with 2:33 to go in the half. From there, the `Cats finished the half on a 6-1 run, due in large part to a stout Ohio defense forcing two Broncos turnovers in the last 30 seconds which led to three points. The Green and White entered the break ahead, 29-25.
Ohio limited the Broncos to just 24.0 percent shooting - a season low for an Ohio opponent in a half - and turned eight Western Michigan turnovers into seven points. Cooper led the `Cats with eight first-half points.
Western Michigan moved within three at 34-31 at the 15:30 mark of the second half, before Ohio put together a 9-0 run over the next 2:43 to extend its advantage to 12 (43-31). A 3-point play by Keely kept the `Cats in front by nine (48-39) with 8:35 to play, but Western Michigan scored the next five points to move back within four (49-45).
The Broncos cut it to three (58-55) with 2:26 to go, but a clutch jumper by senior forward Ivo Baltic (Kansas City, Mo.) silenced the raucous home crowd and kept Ohio up by five.
After empty possessions by both teams, Western Michigan's Jared Klein made two free throws , then stole the ball on the next Ohio possession and laid the ball in to cut the Ohio lead to one (60-59) with seven seconds remaining. Cooper was fouled on the ensuing possession and made one of two free throws. A last second shot by the Broncos came up short, and the `Cats hung on for the two-point victory (61-59).
Ohio returns to action Wednesday (Jan. 16) against MAC West Division foe Northern Illinois at the Convocation Center. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. Fans can watch and listen to the game through a live audio/video stream on OhioBobcats.com. "Voice of the Bobcats" Russ Eisenstein and Rob Cornelius will call the action live on the Ohio IMG Sports Network powered by Horizon.