With just over 15 minutes left in the second half, Teyvion Kirk made a steal and drove toward the basket.

He tried to put the ball behind his back for a lay-up, but ran out of time as defenders closed in. So he turned and found Kevin Mickle, patiently waiting underneath the rim. Mickle threw down a ferocious one-handed slam, as he and Kirk ran back on defense with a laugh.

It was that kind of night at The Convo, one where the Bobcats could relax seemingly minutes after the game started. The scoreboard showed a 38-point Ohio lead when Mickle dunked — and it got worse.

But scoreboard was merciful in a way, considering time ran out when it looked like Ohio's points couldn't. Ohio dominated Coppin State in every sense of the word en route to an 80-37 win. It was Ohio's biggest victory since 2001, when it defeated Long Island 110-57.

"I haven't practiced a lot of halftime speeches for up 28," coach Saul Phillips said. "I made one up on the fly. It's a good problem to have."

The Bobcats never let the Eagles into the game. Not at the start, not at the halftime and not when the clocked ticked off its final merciful minutes.

Ohio jumped out to a 45-17 lead at half, which extended to a game-high 43-point lead. Coppin State didn't score its 20th point until there was 13:20 left in the second half. Ohio reached that same plateau six and a half minutes into the game.

To say the game was a blowout would be an insult to blowouts.

"Any time you can hold a team to 37 points, it's a positive," Phillips said. "I liked our guys' approach to the game tonight. I thought they came out with the appropriate reaction after coming off a loss. I thought they kept their composure." 

Mike Laster led Ohio with 18 points, while Mickle added 15 of his own.

The night was highlighted by the return of Mickle, however, who had been out since Nov. 19 with a knee injury. He finished with 15 rebounds in 15 minutes played as well.

"Felt pretty good," Mickle said. "Pain-wise out of 10, I give it a zero. Today, we wanted to play limited time with me, so 15 minutes was good."

His return gave the Bobcats, who had been running a seven-man rotation absent Mickle, some needed relief in the front court. Gavin Block, who started the game as a forward, would no longer be needed to play as an emergency center.

"Obviously, it's best when we're full-go and healthy," James Gollon said. "It sucks when you have so many guys that are hurt, but everybody is trying to do everything they can to get back. Having a full squad, I think once we get Jason (Carter) back and Ben (Vander Plas) back and A.J. (Gareri) back, we're gonna take off a little bit."

But full squad or not, complete team or not, the Bobcats put forth a complete team performance on Friday. The defense was suffocating, Mickle returned and the end of the bench even got in the game.

"When Sam Frayer comes walking out of the media room past you, you know something either really really good or really really bad," Phillips said.



Comments powered by Disqus