HUNTINGTON, W. Va — Ohio guard Jaaron Simmons let out a few punches to the base of the basket. He lost control of the ball after driving the paint, giving up the ball on a crucial possession.
For a game that promised high flying offense and fast tempo, Ohio wanted none of it. Simmons, who usually enjoys going downhill on offensive drives, seemed to be forcing too much.
And with four minutes left in regulation, Ohio had to match Marshall’s fast-paced tempo. It simply couldn't.
Marshall (5-1) beat Ohio (4-1) Wednesday night 98-88 at the Cam Henderson Center, after a second half push by the Thundering Herd’s offense ruined the Bobcats once perfect record.
"We’ve been good this year so far defensively," Ohio coach Saul Phillips said. "Tonight we were not. We didn’t handle screen-and-roll or hand-off action very well. Our help side (defense) didn’t get to it’s rotation very often.”
The Bobcats did all they could to slow down a Thundering Herd team itching out of their jerseys to push the pace off of Ohio’s 14 team turnovers. The Bobcats surrendered 19 total points off turnovers.
When Marshall wanted to run, Ohio couldn’t keep in stride. The Thundering Herd and their 83 possessions simply had the ball too many times.
“I thought, at times, we looked rushed out there,” Phillips said.
The Thundering Herd finished the game shooting 48 percent from the field and 40 percent from 3-point shooting.
Ohio came out of a 42-38 halftime deficit with a 9-0 run — only to see it evaporate with 53 percent shooting by Marshall in the second half.
"We started off slow, but we knew we were quicker than their bigs,” Marshall’s Ryan Taylor said. Taylor finished with 17 points and 11 rebounds and three blocks.
“I think we got a little spooked out by the threes they hit early and we allowed passing lanes that we haven’t allowed,” Phillips said.
Ohio didn't shoot poorly either; Antonio Campbell led all scorers with 31 points and 16 rebounds. Jordan Dartis had 16 points off 4-of-9 shooting.
It was Marshall's five starters with double-digit points that spoiled Ohio's first trip to Huntington since 2011.
"It’s frustrating," Campbell said. "Like I said, we couldn’t get stops. We were scoring, we just couldn’t get stops. Had a couple turnovers that lead to transition threes. In the first half, actually, that kinda hurt us a little bit, but couldn’t get stops, man.”
Maybe it was the raucous crowd that filled the gymnasium with boos. Maybe it was a flashback to last year when the Bobcats struggled to prevent points off screen and rolls.
Or maybe it was a perfect wake-up call for a team seeking their first 5-0 start since Jim Christian coached the program.
"Statistically, I’ve had much bigger meltdowns defensively, but I expect more out of this team,” Phillips said. “And they expect more out of themselves.”