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Ohio senior forward Maurice Ndour fights for a loose ball against Kent State on Saturday at The Convo. (CARL FONTICELLA | FOR THE POST)

Offensive woes result in fourth straight loss for the Bobcats

Ohio fell to Kent State on Saturday, losing its fourth consecutive game.

Javarez “Bean” Willis was passed the ball during a fast-break and only had one Kent State defender in the way of his route to the basket.

The defender forced Willis, a redshirt senior guard, to go left of the rim. He tossed up a layup and it rimmed out.

The Bobcats were already trailing by 15 points and less than three minutes remained, but when Willis’ missed layup fell into the hands of his defender, fans stood up from their seats and headed toward the exit.

Fans, players and coaches are frustrated with how the Bobcats' season has gone, after winning at least 24 games during the past three seasons.

Ohio already has clinched a losing record and fell 64-51 Saturday against the Golden Flashes. It was the fourth consecutive loss, tying a season-long skid that began Mid-American Conference play.

“Everybody in our locker room is frustrated with the fact we dropped another one,” coach Saul Phillips said. “It’s hard to stomach.”

Willis’ missed layup wasn’t the Bobcats’ only of the day. During one first-half possession they missed three and then missed another two during the final minutes before halftime.

Ohio (9-16, 4-10 MAC) missed its first seven shots and finished having made just 18 of 51 field goal attempts.

“I think ‘finishing’ is the key word of the day,” Phillips said. “It seemed like every time we miss an opportunity on the offensive end, they came back and made us pay.”

Despite offensive struggles, the Bobcats cut their deficit from 11 points at halftime to two points midway through the second half. Kent State then went on a 15-4 run capped by four-point and three-point plays on consecutive possessions.

After the latter, Kent State’s Jimmy Hall flexed his arms before being mobbed by his teammates who were following suit.

Sophomore forward Antonio Campbell said it silenced the crowd and left the Bobcats wondering where the home-court momentum was from the fans.

He also said the Bobcats weren’t tough — mentally or physically — down the stretch. Phillips and senior guard Stevie Taylor agreed.

“We were down two and from there we didn’t execute,” Taylor said. “I think we kind of laid down a little bit.”

Taylor finished with 13 points in 24 minutes off the bench and dictated the Bobcats’ offensive tempo while on the court by out-hustling the Golden Flashes. He was one of three Bobcats in double-digits, as Campbell and senior Maurice Ndour scored 14 and 12 points, respectively.

“I’ve been playing against this group of guys from Kent State for awhile now,” Taylor said. “I took it upon myself to put it try and be that energy guy for my team.”

Ohio’s loss to Kent State on Jan. 17 was the last of a four-game skid before winning consecutive games. Phillips is hopeful the current streak also will end after losing to the Golden Flashes, but for now he said it’s “back to the drawing board” with two weeks before the MAC Tournament.

“I don’t like where we are. I don’t like how we feel,” he said. “This is a lot of losses.”


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