Ohio keeps finding ways to win.
It never takes the easiest route. Its wins over the past five weeks have ranged from close calls to offensive slogs. But regardless of method, the results are still the same. Ohio is on an eight-game winning streak and has yet to be beaten at home.
In its 85-78 win over Bowling Green inside The Convo on Tuesday, Ohio (13-2, 4-0 Mid-American Conference) played close to its chest. After Jason Carter sank back-to-back jumpers after tipoff, Ohio’s shooting percentage plateaued. It was 13-of-33 from the field before halftime and only sank one 3-pointer in the first 15 minutes.
Ohio never trailed, but its skittish start kept Bowling Green lapping at its heels.
“I think we've let teams come back,” guard Tommy Schmock said. “We're used to that second-half close game, but we won a different way today because we've never really been in a close game the whole game. To pull it out later is just another way, a good way, that we can win.”
Schmock finished the night with a season-high of 17 points, behind only Carter’s 22-point performance and Mark Sears’ 19 points. The senior has been a perennial off-the-bench presence for Ohio since transferring from Division II program Findlay this year, and he has only recently been given his time in the sun. After Miles Brown was taken out of the rotation due to COVID-19 protocols, Ohio shifted around its rotation, and Schmock was thrust into the starting lineup.
In his second start, Schmock proved why he was fit for the job.
Schmock unloaded on Bowling Green (8-7, 1-3 MAC). He’s been one of Ohio’s most reliable 3-point shooters this season, and he propped the team up Tuesday. Schmock sank a season-high four 3-pointers and shot 57.1% from beyond the arc.
“It feels good, especially against that team,” Schmock said. “I’m pretty familiar with them. We used to play them every year at Findlay. I kind of owed them.”
The rest of the Bobcats soon followed Schmock’s example. They scored 53 points in the second half, and four players scored in double figures. Sears, who’d only tallied six points before the break, ended the night with 19 points. Even bench players received the wake-up call. Freshman A.J. Clayton went 3-of-6 from beyond the arc and scored a season-high 12 points in just 14 minutes on the court.
Ohio coach Jeff Boals wants his players to earn their wins. He believes overconfidence will come back to bite Ohio sooner or later. Boals says if the Bobcats can stay even-keeled, their winning streak is theirs to lose.
“We're not good enough just to roll the ball out,” Boals said. “I'm not going to outcoach anybody. We're not going to outplay anybody. We’ve got to go out there and execute. We’ve got to play with an edge and resiliency, which we've been doing. We've been finding ways to win, which I think is a sign of a great team.”
The Bobcats have trudged through their first four conference games. The wins don’t come easy, and they’ve been in dogfights against the bottom feeders of the MAC.
But their record doesn’t lie. Neither does their eight-game winning streak or their 9-0 record in The Convo. The Bobcats, no matter the method, continue to churn out results that reflect in the conference standings.
Because Ohio found another way to win.