Jason Carter remembered Ohio’s game plan clear as day.
It wasn’t an elaborate plan, and the redshirt fifth year kept it fresh in his mind following Ohio’s 73-59 dusting of Mount St. Mary’s on Monday night. Before the game, Ohio drummed up a two-point plan to win its third-straight game in The Convo.
The first point, above all, was correcting its rebounding issues.
“That was that was the name of the game,“ Carter said. “That and physicality.”
Ohio had mulled over its rebounding performance all weekend. It had been smoked at the boards by then-No.13 Kentucky on Friday, and it didn’t want to repeat the same mistake against Mount St. Mary’s. Carter said that Ohio is always working on weak aspects of its game, and its recent rebounding struggles are what required the most attention.
Monday’s game showed Ohio is a quick study.
The Bobcats recorded 30 rebounds and held the Mountaineers to six offensive rebounds Monday night. Coach Jeff Boals felt the Bobcats took a step in the right direction by boxing out the Mountaineers.
“If you look at the Kentucky box, our guards did nothing rebounding-wise,“ Boals said. “We did a good job I think tonight boxing out, I think they only had six, but they also shot 54% from the field ... but to hold them to six offensive rebounds with their frontline as big as they were, I thought we got some big rebounds.”
Ohio scored 14 points off of rebounds Monday on top of a solid performance on offense. All of Ohio’s starters ended the game in double figures. Monday’s game was the second time Ohio had five players score 10 points or more in a game.
However, its offense switched up its style. Ohio (4-1) routed Mount St. Mary’s without relying on its most valuable asset — its 3-point shooting.
The Bobcats are accustomed to utilizing 3-pointers for a boost on offense. They’d never shot less than 24 attempts per game and shot 37.3% from beyond the arc in their first four games this season. The Bobcats boast a cabal of capable 3-point shooters and aren’t afraid to use them.
But that approach went out the window Monday night.
“I think the way (the Mountaineers) play the ball screens, they do a drop coverage,“ Boals said. “We knew we could get the ball in the paint. So, our emphasis was really getting into the paint, which we did a lot ... because they ride you, they push you and their fives come over and try to block everything.”
Instead of relying on the long ball, Ohio moved in and scored in the paint. It scaled back on its 3-point shooting and shot just 14 attempts from beyond the arc. It was only 1-of-5 from 3-point range before halftime.
But Ohio remained focused on scoring up close. Even after its offense built up steam in the second half and 3s landed more easily, it never leaned back on its long-range shooting. Instead, Ohio stuck to its plan and fought for its points under the rim.
“I mean, there's got to be games like that where teams really lock up like they did tonight and just let us drive and gonna force us to finish at the rim,“ Carter said. “The fact that we could get it done, that just shows that we we have the ability to do it. We’ve just got to continue to emphasize that and not just get comfortable with just taking 30 3s, even though some nights we might.”
The Bobcats strayed from their routine and it paid off. They scored a season-high 48 points in the paint Monday and never trailed for the entire game. They even rounded out the game on an eight-minute, 21-6 run padded by two 3-pointers. After taking their first loss of the season on the chin, the Bobcats dusted themselves off and picked up their third-straight win at home.
They just needed a game plan.