ATHENS, Ohio -Stevie Taylor scored a career-high 19 points to pace five players in double figures as Ohio defeated North Carolina A&T this evening at home, 82-66.
The Bobcats moved to 11-1, matching the start of the 1940-41 team and now needs one more victory to match the best start through 13 games in program history set by the 1939-40 and 1920-21 squads.
Walter Offutt shot 5-of-16 from the field but finished with 14 points for Ohio. He also added five rebounds, four steals and three assists. Nick Kellogg matched Offutt in point production, going 4-of-8 from long range. The sophomore also had four steals and the duo combined to score 19 of Ohio’s first 23 points in the second half.
Ivo Baltic and Reggie Keely continued their strong play inside, combining for 23 points and 17 rebounds. Baltic finished one board shy of a double-double, which would have been the second of his career. He has led the team in rebounding five times this season, tops among the Green & White.
Ohio held a fifth-straight opponent below 70 points, improving to 9-1 this year when they are able to accomplish the defensive feat. The Bobcats forced a season-best 24 turnovers which led to 34 points. Despite its point total, N.C. A&T did manage to shoot 55.8 percent for the game, 69.6 percent in the first half.
The first 13 minutes were evenly matched as the score read 25-25. However, Taylor drilled consecutive three-pointers to open up a six-point lead. After a N.C. A&T layup, Taylor hit a third to give the Bobcats their largest lead of the half, 34-27. Taylor finished with five of Ohio’s season-high matching 12 three-pointers in the contest.
Leading 42-39 at the intermission due to Taylor’s hot shooting from the perimeter, Kellogg and Offutt began to take over. Ahead 50-45, Ohio went on an 8-1 run by getting inside. Two layups by Offutt and one each from Kellogg and Keely pushed the Bobcat lead to double figures at 58-46 with 14:59 to play.
The Aggies responded and trimmed the gap to five at 61-56 with 10:29 showing on the clock. Despite the surge from the visitors, Ohio answered with a 13-3 run of its own to take a 74-59 lead with 5:17 to play. The Bobcat defense, which had been torched in the first half, limited N.C. A&T to two field goals over the final 8:23 of the contest en route to the “W”.
Ohio has another home date before it rings in 2012 as Kennesaw State comes to town on December 30. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.