By Mike Ashcraft
Box Score (PDF)
MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. -- The Ohio men's basketball team (7-6, 0-1 MAC) was knocked off by West Division foe Central Michigan (12-2, 1-0 MAC), 75-50, in the 2018 Mid-American Conference opener at McGuirk Arena on Tuesday (Jan. 2).
The Chippewas outscored the Bobcats, 38-19, in the second half as Ohio shot just 26.7 percent (8-of-30) from the floor and went 0-of-11 from beyond the arc.
"I thought our offensive attack was impatient in the first half, hampered by turnovers," said fourth-year head coach Saul Phillips. "In the second half, hampered by poor shooting, and, at times, not getting the ball to the right spots on the floor against that zone. We kept trying different combinations to see if anybody could figure it out. Alas, we didn't, and, when we did, we missed shots."
Senior guard Mike Laster (Detroit, Mich.) led Ohio with 19 points, marking the 10th time this season he's reached double figures in points -- including each of his last nine games played. He has now led the Bobcats in scoring a team-high seven times. Laster went 8-of-14 from the field with a pair of three-pointers. He also logged five rebounds, two assists, a steal and a block over 26 minutes. Freshman guard Teyvion Kirk (Joliet, Ill.) was the only other Bobcat to finish in double figures in points, totaling 13 off of a 6-of-13 shooting performance. He has now finished in double figures a team-high 11 times this year. Kirk also led the Bobcats with seven rebounds to go along with two steals and a block in 28 minutes.
Sophomore forward David DiLeo led the Chippewas with a game-high 22 points, going 7-of-13 from the field with six treys. He also contributed seven rebounds and an assist over 34 minutes of work. Senior forward Cecil Williams just missed out on a double-double, finishing with 15 points and a game-high nine boards. He also tallied a game-high assists to go along with two steals and a block in 32 minutes. Junior guard Shawn Roundtree, Jr. logged 13 points, two assists and a rebound in 29 minutes of action. Senior forward Luke Meyer hit five of his seven field goal attempts -- including a pair of triples -- to total 12 points. He also had four rebounds and a steal over 26 minutes of work.
The Bobcats trailed the Chippewas by six at the half, 37-31, despite Laster leading all scorers with 12 points off of 5-of-7 shooting with a pair of threes and Kirk contributing 10 points and snatching a game-high five rebounds over the opening 20 minutes. Ohio was plagued by 11 turnovers, however, which Central Michigan converted into 12 points. Williams and DiLeo each scored 11 points in the first half to lead the Chippewas.
Laster scored eight of Ohio's first 10 points to give the Bobcats a 10-5 advantage with just over 18 minutes to go in the half. Central Michigan put together a 7-0 run, though, to take a 12-10 lead just over a minute later thanks to a triple by Meyer and back-to-back jump shots by Williams. Kirk evened the score by sinking a jumper with just over 16 minutes remaining in the half, but the Chippewas countered with an 8-0 run that was powered by four points by Roundtree. The Chippewas held Ohio scoreless for six-plus minutes until Laster finally broke the drought by making a layup with 8:29 to go to cut Central Michigan's lead to six at 22-16. Central Michigan's lead swelled to a half-high nine points with 3:08 left after a layup by DiLeo, but Kirk kept the Bobcats in it by scoring six points over the final 2:53 of the half – including a fastbreak dunk off of his own steal.
Central Michigan put the contest out of reach in the first 5:55 of the second half, holding Ohio scoreless while opening the final 20 minutes on a 15-0 run. DiLeo led the way for the Chippewas by scoring a team-high 11 points in the second half.
Ohio looks to bounce back on Saturday (Jan. 6) when it welcomes MAC West Division foe Northern Illinois (8-6, 1-0 MAC) for a 3:30 p.m. ET contest at the Convocation Center. The game will be streamed live on WatchESPN and the ESPN app.