ATHENS, Ohio - Walter Offutt matched his career-high with 19 points to lead Ohio to a convincing 81-62 victory over UNC-Asheville in the annual BracketBuster game Saturday night. It was the 15th home win of the season for the Bobcats, setting a program record.
Ohio never trailed as it cruised to its eighth win in the last 10 games. With the win, Ohio improved to 21-6 overall and 15-1 at the Convo. The Bobcats shot 15 percentage points higher than its season average, connecting at 58 percent for its second-highest mark of the season (62% at Wright State)
Offutt (Indianapolis, Ind.) was one of three players to finish in double figures. Freshman guard Stevie Taylor (Gahanna, Ohio) scored 12 points and sophomore guard Nick Kellogg (Westerville, Ohio) finished with 10 points.
Junior forward Ivo Baltic (Kansas City, Mo.) pulled down a team-high seven rebounds and junior guard D.J. Cooper (Chicago, Ill.) dished out eight assists. Cooper's eight assists were the most he's had this season since Dec. 10 against Portland.
The Bobcat defense smothered the UNC-Asheville attack that came into the game ranking 4th in the nation in scoring (82.3) and 11th in the nation in field goal percentage (49.0). Ohio held the Bulldogs to 34 percent shooting, 5-of-24 from beyond the arc.
Ohio jumped out to an 8-1 lead and never looked back as the Bobcats held UNC-Asheville without a field goal until the 13:44 mark of the first half. When the Bulldogs scored their first field goal, which made the score 8-3, they probably didn't realize it would be as close as they would get the rest of the evening.
The Bobcats immediately went on a 12-3 run to open up a 20-6 lead with 8:45 to go in the game. Taylor scored eight points during the stretch, knocking down a pair of 3-pointers.
Ohio took a 34-18 lead into the locker room. The Bobcats held UNC-Asheville to just 21 percent shooting. Offutt led all first half scorers as he poured in 12 points. Ohio's bench also provided a large boost, out-scoring their counterparts from the visiting side 16-1.
The Bobcats outscored UNC-Asheville 17-13 over the first 10 minutes of the second half to open up a 20-point lead. In the final 10 minutes, Ohio's lead never fell below 14 points as it went on to secure the victory.
Ohio shot an incredible 73 percent from the field in the second half as freshman forward TyQuane Goard (Charleston, W. Va.) scored seven points and grabbed five rebounds, while redshirt sophomore Nick Goff (Columbus, Ohio) scored the first five points of his career.
Redshirt sophomore Jon Smith (Columbus, Ohio) chipped in with five points, five rebounds and three blocks. The Bobcats improved to 11-1 when Smith grabs five or more rebounds.
The Bobcats return to action on Wednesday as they head north to take on Buffalo. The game is set to tip-off at 7 p.m.