Feb. 12, 2006
KALAMAZOO, Mich. - Western Michigan made seven of eight free throws in the last minute to keep its distance from Ohio, winning 65-62 in University Arena.
Ohio (13-7, 7-5 Mid-American Conference) led by three at the break and held a one-point lead after a Leon Williams (Baltimore, Md.) made free-throw with 4:34 to go but could not get Head Coach Tim O'Shea's first-career victory in Kalamazoo. With three seconds remaining, Western Michigan (10-13, 7-6 MAC) increased its lead to three after one of two free throws made and watched Antonio Chatman (Dorchester, Mass.) miss a 40-foot three-pointer hit the rim at the buzzer to even the season series at one game apiece.
"There was a lot of heart out there by the guys," O'Shea said. "We had a tough day shooting the ball, especially in the first half. We had a bunch of shots right around the basket point blank that we didn't put down.
"Sometimes as a coach, you come in really frustrated with the team, but with the heart and togetherness they played with out there today, I'll take that any day," he said.
Sonny Troutman (Indianapolis, Ind.) led all Bobcats with 15 points Sunday, including 10 of the Bobcats' first 15, and Jerome Tillman (Beavercreek, Ohio) almost had his first career double-double with nine points and eight rebounds.
In only his sixth start at the point guard position, Chatman dished out five assists and scored 12 of his own. Mychal Green (Columbus, Ohio) played a strong defensive role with nine rebounds and two blocks while Williams sat most of the time on the bench because of foul trouble.
However, both Green and Williams would eventually foul out while trying to help contain Bronco sophomore Joe Reitz, who scored a career-high 31 points, the most by a player against Ohio this year. The game had six total lead changes and the score tied three separate times.
Ohio started the game shooting a woeful 0-for-9 before Troutman hit a three at 14:59 to give the Bobcats their first points of the game while trailing 8-3. That lead would grow to 19-9 before Ohio responded with a 19-3 run of its own, taking the lead on a Chatman three-pointer at the 4:18 mark, making five of Ohio's first nine field goals three-pointers.
At the half, Ohio led 30-27 thanks in part to being 5-of-9 from behind the arc in the half compared to Western Michigan's 1-of-7. Both Troutman and Reitz led scorers at the half with 12 points each.
Green started the second half with his first basket of the day and responded to Brian Snider's 30-foot three-pointer with one of his own, breaking an 0-for-13 slump since draining one versus Miami. Shortly thereafter, Williams would receive his fourth foul reaching back for a rebound three minutes into the half. Ohio would take its biggest lead of the game at 38-30 when Tillman made a shot inside the paint and the free throw after being fouled by Reitz.
With Ohio leading 45-41 at 10:43, Reitz would score seven straight points, one from a bonus free-throw shot after a foul by Tillman, to give the Broncos their first lead since 4:16 of the first half. Williams would tie it at 48 with one of two free throws at the 8:38 mark. Johnnie Jackson (Memphis, Tenn.), playing with a stomach virus, gave the Bobcats the lead with his own three-point play to make the score 51-48.
The score would continue to seesaw with Williams giving Ohio another lead with a free-throw, only for Reitz to respond with a lay-up to give Western Michigan the lead for good at 4:22. Williams would foul out at the three-minute mark after spending only 17 minutes on the court.
With 1:30 to go, both Green and Troutman missed three-pointers to try to tie the game, resulting in Ohio needing to foul the Broncos. Reitz drained six free-throws in a 20-second span but Chatman's two made shots in the paint kept the score close before Troutman drained a three to bring the lead down to 64-62.
On the ensuing play, Brian Snider lobbed the inbound pass, which was intercepted by Ohio's Jeff Halbert (White Bear Lake, Minn.). Trying to dish it inside to Whitney Davis (Ann Arbor, Mich.), Chatman's pass was intercepted by Snider, who called a timeout before a jump-ball call could be made.
Derek Fracalossi made the first of two free throws. Jackson rebounded the miss and quickly passed to Chatman, who drove up the court to make a last-second attempt to go to overtime. The shot missed, and the Bobcats suffered their fourth loss in six games.
During the game, all coaches took part in the Coaches vs. Cancer cause by wearing sneakers in suits. Jeremy Fears missed his second-consecutive game as he is on temporary leave from the team to attend the funeral of a relative.
Ohio's remaining conference games consist of only East Division teams, which includes next a visit to rival Miami on Wednesday, Feb. 15, at 7 p.m. in Millet Hall. The Bobcats hope to avenge a 73-59 home loss to the RedHawks on Jan. 29. Last year at Millett Hall, the Bobcats lost 59-57, missing a three-pointer at the buzzer.