INDIANAPOLIS — Ohio came into Hinkle Fieldhouse on Monday night looking to extend its stay in the NCAA Tournament. One more win and the Bobcats would’ve made it to the Sweet 16 for the third time since 2010. Unfortunately for the Bobcats, they’ll have to pack their bags following a 72-58 season ending to No. 5 seed Creighton.
Here are The Post’s instant reactions to Ohio’s season ending loss to Creighton.
Turnovers ... and not the sweet kind
There were multiple reasons why Ohio trailed at the half 39-24, but one that was especially gut wrenching was turnovers. Creighton scored 13 points off seven Bobcat turnovers and seized the opportunity with Ohio playing out of whack.
Where is the water?
After trading back and forth for most of the first half, Ohio had the faucet turned off by the basketball gods. The Bobcats finished the half on a 3:29 scoring drought and seemingly couldn’t get a great look at anything.
Ohio missed four field goals, two free throws and turned the ball over twice in the span. To make matters worse, the Bluejays went on a 16-2 run while their blue-cladded fanbase took over the atmosphere at Hinkle Fieldhouse. Creighton, who had been struggling from 3-point range the last three games, came alive thanks to guard Marcus Zegarowski (20 points).
Go down swinging
Just because Ohio trailed big at the half doesn’t mean it quit.
Ohio did everything it could to get back in the game, from increasing its pressure on defense to letting Jason Preston play more off ball to free him up, Ohio tried to make the adjustments it needed to make. Unfortunately for the Bobcats, shooting 23% from 3-point range (7-30) just wasn’t good enough.
What a ride
At one point, Ohio was barely over .500 in the Mid-American Conference, so to make it as far as they did this season is remarkable. Obviously Monday didn’t go as plan for Jeff Boals and the Bobcats, but the future is extremely bright, all things considering.
Next season, Ohio could return its entire team. Fans will eagerly wait to see if Jason Preston will return to Athens for his senior year, but in the meantime, Ohio fans know they can count on a solid core of Dwight Wilson, Ben Vander Plas, Ben Roderick and Lunden McDay. Don’t forget Mark Sears is in the mix too.
You could argue that Ohio arrived a year early. Young teams don’t usually emerge from the upperclassmen-dominated MAC, but Ohio managed to take over the conference and the country’s admiration with some young bucks.
Needless to say, expectations will be high for Boals in his third season. The Bobcats won’t be the cheeky underdog. Instead they’ll have a target on their backs. Don’t fret though, Ohio likes the spotlight because without it, you wouldn’t be able to see them dance.