Jan. 21, 2006
TOLEDO, Ohio - For the first time since Feb. 14, 1996, the Ohio men's basketball team earned a win at Toledo with a 71-68 victory Saturday at Savage Hall.
With Ohio's starters struggling with turnovers, reserves Whitney Davis (Ann Arbor, Mich.), Antonio Chatman (Charlestown, Mass.), Johnnie Jackson (Memphis) and Jerome Tillman (Beavercreek, Ohio) turned in solid second-half performances to help the Bobcats improve to 11-3 and 5-1 in the Mid-American Conference. Davis and Chatman both scored career highs with 18 and eight points, respectively.
"The key to the win was clearly our bench," said Ohio head coach Tim O'Shea. "Leon (Williams) wasn't having his best day and Sonny (Troutman) and Jeremy (Fears) were turning the ball over too much but the bench really came through. This is a huge win in terms of needing to get wins on the road in this conference."
Ohio shot out to an early 5-0 lead on a bucket by Williams (Baltimore) and a three-pointer by Mychal Green (Columbus, Ohio). The Bobcats were up 12-4 following a Jeff Halbert (White Bear Lake, Minn.) three-pointer less than three minutes into the game.
After the Rockets (8-7, 1-6 MAC) cut the lead to 16-13, Ohio went on a 10-2 run to lead by 11, 26-15, with 9:48 left in the first half. Fears scored five of those 10 points for the Bobcats and then scored seven of the team's next 10 points as well, as Ohio held a 36-23 advantage with 6:13 remaining.
The Bobcats would not score for the remainder of the half, though, as Toledo took a 9-0 run into the locker room. Although shooting 66.7 percent (14-of-21) from the field, Ohio held only a four-point edge at the break, mainly due to a season-high 17 turnovers, which was four more than its season average for a game and just three less than its season high of 20 against Shippensburg on Dec. 17.
"Our turnovers in the first half were ridiculous," said O'Shea. "I probably owe Toledo for a trash can that I punched across the locker room because I was so upset at halftime. Fortunately, Tony Chatman came off the bench in the second half and really gave us tremendous leadership at the point."
Following two more Bobcat turnovers at the beginning of the second half, O'Shea called a timeout and replaced Fears (Joliet, Ill.) and Troutman (Indianapolis) with Chatman and Davis, who would stay on the court for almost the remainder of the game. Ohio was leading 38-37 at the time and Davis quickly hit a three-pointer to push the lead back to four.
The Rockets regained the momentum, however, with a 7-2 run to give them their first lead at 44-43 with 15:41 to play. Davis and Chatman responded, though, with layups on back-to-back trips down the court to take back the lead for Ohio.
With the Bobcats leading 49-48 with a little under 13 minutes to play, a Davis jumper started a 12-2 Ohio run that would put them ahead 61-50 with eight minutes left. Chatman, Halbert and Williams all contributed baskets during the run while Jackson pitched in a jumper and a layup.
"I jumped him pretty good at halftime and he really responded in the second half," O'Shea said about Jackson, a junior forward who transferred from Boston College. "I always tell our guys, `Make me play you.' When they perform like that, all it means is that you're going to get more minutes."
Toledo answered back with five straight points but layups by Davis and Tillman pushed the gap back to 10 with four minutes to go. The Rockets then went on an 8-2 run to make it 67-63 with 1:37 on the clock.
After a steal and free throw by Green, Toledo cut the lead to three, 68-65, with a Florentino Valencia tip-in with 37 seconds remaining. Davis then sank one of two free throws and following a missed three-pointer by Rocket guard Justin Ingram, Chatman sealed the win with a pair from the charity stripe.
Kashif Payne sank a three-pointer with under two seconds remaining but Ohio was able to inbound the ball and run out the clock for the three-point win.
Led by Davis' 18 and Chatman's eight, the Bobcat bench outscored Toledo's by a 32-8 margin. Also contributing to that total were Jackson - who recorded four points, six rebounds, an assist, a block and a steal - and Tillman, who grabbed four rebounds and blocked a shot in addition to his two points.
Fears led the Ohio starters with 14 points - all in the first half - and Williams finished with 13 points and six rebounds. Green added seven points, six rebounds and a career-best six assists while Halbert scored five points to round out the Bobcats' scoring.
For Davis, Saturday marked the fourth time in the past six games the junior guard has reached double figures in scoring.
"What's nice about Whitney is that he came into our program very unheralded and he's worked his way into this position," said O'Shea. "He didn't come in as this all-star, All-American type of kid but he's made himself into a very valuable member of this team. That is what you like to see as a coach."
Ingram led the Rockets with 20 points with Valencia and Payne each chipping in 15 to the losing effort.
Saturday's victory marked the beginning of an eight-day stretch in which the Bobcats will play four conference games. Next is a home game against Akron on Tuesday. The 7 p.m. contest will be televised live by the ONN from the Convocation Center.
Ohio will then play a pair of games that will be televised on Fox Sports Net Ohio. The Bobcats will play an 8 p.m. game at Buffalo on Thursday followed by a Sunday home game against arch-rival Miami starting at noon in The Convo.
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