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Ohio coach Saul Phillips during Ohio's game against Eastern Michigan on Jan. 14, 2017. (FILE)

Men's Basketball: Ohio is its own worst enemy in 79-65 loss to Dayton

Ohio could live with Thursday night’s loss to Clemson. 

It lost by five to an ACC school while missing one of its best players. It had players step into big roles and excel. They fought hard; they just came up short. 

But on Friday, the Bobcats beat themselves. They were within striking distance of Dayton most of the night, but self-inflicted wounds derailed multiple comeback attempts. 

It’s no surprise the Bobcats struggled to score for extended periods in their 79-65 loss to Dayton on Friday night at TD Arena. They were missing one of the focal points of their offense.

But that doesn't make up for their lack of execution. 

“You can’t get any traction if you’re not putting any points on the board,” Phillips said. “We were getting stops, but couldn’t get any traction because we were missing free throws or turning the ball over.”

Dayton forced the Bobcats to attack the basket for much of the night by playing a 3-2 zone and forcing 3-point shooters to drive. They drew the fouls at the rim, they just didn’t convert. 

What’s more, Ohio missed three free throws on one-and-one opportunities, which means it could’ve had more chances at free points.

“We’re good enough to get to the free throw line 17 times,” Phillips said. “You gotta make them pay a little more than that.” 

The Flyers lead didn’t feel out of reach until the end, but the Bobcats couldn't inch any closer than arm’s length. The free throws were part of it. But like Phillips said, the Bobcats often didn’t even get the chance to attempt a shot. 

Teyvion Kirk had a great first half. He led the team in scoring and was tied for the lead in rebounding; he looked like he had more energy than anyone on the court. 

In the second half, however, he fell victim to freshman mistakes — repeatedly. Six of his seven turnovers came during the second half, and he only scored two points in the same timespan.

Every time the Bobcats cut the lead to single digits, Dayton went on a quick run to regain a comfortable lead. The opportunities were there; they were getting stops. They just couldn’t capitalize. 

“We had too many turnovers out of our point guard position tonight,” Phillips said. “It would’ve been a little different ball game had we gotten better decision making from there.”  

Despite the lack of a comeback, the Bobcats outshot Dayton from the field Friday night. Dayton won the possession battle through turnovers and dominance on the offensive glass — particularly from Josh Cunningham. 

Rebounding woes are expected without the leading returning rebounder, but Cunningham is six-feet seven-inches tall. He’s not the most physically imposing player. 

That didn’t stop him from accumulating 19 rebounds against Ohio, eight of them offensive. 

“For one player to have eight of them,” Phillips said. “That’s not just one player getting beat out head to head, that shows me we’re not team rebounding well enough.” 

Part of the problem could’ve been fatigue. The Bobcats are down to an eight man rotation and played games on consecutive nights. And for that reason, they will take it easy during tomorrow’s off day before Sunday’s game against Indiana State. 

They can’t rest too much, however. They can't be rewarded for beating themselves. 

“We gotta use it wisely,” Phillips said. “There’s gotta be some amount of levity in the day, but there’s gotta be a work element tomorrow too because we had too many shortcomings tonight.”


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