The last of many turnovers did Ohio in.
Down five points with three and a half minutes left, Teyvion Kirk had the ball knocked out of his hands by Western Michigan guard Thomas Wilder, who led a quick transition up the court and found an open man for a 3-pointer.
Less than two minutes before, Kirk scored a floater to give Ohio its first lead of the half. But the ensuing nine-point run for the Broncos — capped by Kirk’s turnover — ended the Bobcats’ chance at stealing away a win.
Ohio lost 69-60 on Saturday against Western Michigan, committing a season-high 20 turnovers in the process.
“Turnovers just absolutely—,” coach Saul Phillips said before stopping himself. “I mean, second half, we started moving the ball a little better, we started getting some basket cuts, we shot 53.6 percent from the field. But that first half, we just turned it over too much to get any real traction. It’s too bad.”
The Bobcats average 12.9 turnovers per game. In an egregiously sloppy first half, they turned the ball over 12 times and scored just 21 points. But Western Michigan failed to take advantage of the extra scoring chances and shot just 29.7 percent in the half.
Ohio never trailed by more than 10 and eventually drew the game back in its own favor with five minutes to go, grabbing a 53-52 lead.
What happened next was a four-minute dry spell without a field goal. The Bobcats managed to commit just one turnover in that stretch, but it was Kirk’s and it was critical.
Game results never lean on just one statistic. But Ohio’s continual turnover tendencies played a major role. Seven Bobcats committed at least two turnovers, led by Kirk with six.
They came in all circumstances: Kirk travelling, Kevin Mickle letting a pass slip through his hands, Jordan Dartis throwing the ball out of bounds on a miscommunication and Gavin Block forcing a pass attempt into a too-crowded area, to name a few.
Ohio’s opportunity to build on recent positives has come and gone. The Bobcats, who had a chance at back-to-back wins for the first time since December — while following up two 90-plus point performances — fell flat with a 60-point dud.
Up next is a road game against conference power Toledo (18-7, 10-2 Mid-American Conference), who trounced Ohio (10-14, 3-9 MAC) by 34 points at The Convo on Jan. 16.
“We played about as poorly as we could on both ends of the court last time we played Toledo,” Phillips said. “They’re a tough matchup; they’re a very good team. But we’re going to go up there and fight and claw.”