With D.J. Cooper lacking offensive production, the Bobcats had to go somewhere else for scoring. DeVaughn Washington and Tommy Freeman proved to be valuable options.
Washington and Freeman combined for 46 points in Ohio’s 77-74 overtime BracketBuster win at Winthrop Saturday. Washington added eight rebounds and Freeman made seven 3-pointers, which tied a career-high he set Feb. 9 against Toledo.
“DeVaughn was tremendous. It may have been his best game of the year,” coach John Groce said. “And obviously we needed every single one of Tommy’s seven 3s … that’s what you expect from your seniors.”
The duo scored 24 consecutive Bobcat points during the second half. Ivo Baltic opened Ohio’s scoring after the break, and nobody besides Freeman or Washington tallied a point until the 5:49 mark — a span of 13 minutes, 21 seconds.
Freeman tied Ohio’s all-time record for career 3-pointers with his final make Saturday. He now has 239 and will have a chance to break the record, which he shares with Dave Jamerson, at home Wednesday against Bowling Green.
“His body of work is extraordinary,” Groce said of Freeman. “He cares a great deal about winning and about our team and I can’t put enough value on what he means to our basketball program.
Big road win
Ohio’s (14-13) win Saturday came in a difficult gym for road teams to succeed.
The Bobcats became only the third team to beat Winthrop in the Winthrop Coliseum this season. In the past 11 seasons, the Golden Eagles (12-15) are 126-25 at home.
“It’s a hard place to win,” Groce said. “Their kids fought and the crowd got into the game. But the biggest thing is I loved the response our guys showed.”
Good shooting and forced turnovers helped Ohio build a 20-point lead midway through the first half. But Winthrop closed the opening period on a 19-4 run to erase most of the lead.
The Bobcats never trailed in the game, and Winthrop tied it for the first time with 58 seconds to play before both teams missed opportunities to win at the end of regulation.
Groce credited Winthrop for coming back and said he was not disappointed that the Bobcats gave up most of their lead.
“They made some big-time plays in the comeback. It was not necessarily anything we were doing,” Groce said. “I thought we had great poise. That’s six out of eight that we’ve (won) … we’re playing our best basketball at the right time of year right now.”