DENVER, Colo. - The Ohio University men's basketball team (24-10) dropped a 61-57 contest to the Denver University Pioneers (22-9) Tuesday night at Magness Arena in NIT First Round action.
Senior guard D.J. Cooper (Chicago, Ill.) led the Bobcats with 16 points and a game-high four assists, while senior forward Reggie Keely (University Heights, Ohio) added 12 points on 5-of-11 shooting.
Junior guard Travis Wilkins (Springfield, Mo.) provided a nice spark off the bench with eight points while knocking down two-of-three 3-point attempts. Senior forward Ivo Baltic (Kansas City, Mo.) led Ohio on the boards with a career-best 15 rebounds.
The Bobcats shot 41.5 percent (22-53) from the field and held a 35-23 edge on the glass. It was the team's best single-game rebounding margin of the season.
Ohio also held a 22-16 edge in bench scoring.
Two early baskets by Keely helped Ohio jump out to an early 8-5 lead. After Denver took the lead by four (12-8), Ohio tied it up at 12 on a Jon Smith dunk with 13:43 to play in the first half. The Pioneers scored the next six (18-12), but Ohio moved back within one (22-21) on the second three in as many possessions by junior guard Travis Wilkins.
Denver went back up by five (30-25) with 2:20 to go in the first half, but at that point, Cooper took over the game, scoring the final seven points of the half. Ohio took a 32-30 lead into the break.
The Bobcats shot 44.4 percent (12-27) in the period and held a 19-11 edge on the glass. Ohio also posted 14 bench points to Denver's six.
A basket from Chris Udofia moved Denver back ahead (35-34) early in the second half, but five points from Cooper and a jumper from Wilkins made up a 7-0 run that put Ohio up 42-35 with 14:40 remaining in the game.
A jumper from sophomore guard Stevie Taylor (Gahanna, Ohio) kept Ohio ahead seven (46-39), but Denver posted five-straight points to move within two (46-44).
Keely knocked down a shot to move Ohio back in front (52-51) with 7:04 to go, but it was the last time the Bobcats would hold a lead.
Five-straight points from Denver's Brett Olson gave the home team a five point advantage (57-52). A triple from Cooper cut the lead to three (57-55) and a lay-in from Keely moved Ohio within one (58-57) with 1:03 to go in the game.
A Denver free throw gave the Pioneers a two-point lead (59-57), but the Bobcats could not score on their final possession and Denver escaped with the 61-57 win.
It marked the last game for Ohio's senior class, which will leave Athens with a program-record 94 wins.
The Bobcats are now 4-5 all-time in the National Invitation Tournament.