Ohio hasn't been given much room to breathe this week.
After its original meeting with Eastern Michigan was postponed in late December, Ohio reworked its calendar to fit the make-up game early in its February schedule, but this came with a drawback. Ohio had chocked its schedule full and had to face three opponents in five days.
Three games in less than a week is a tall order. An adjusted tipoff time Thursday due to an inclement weather forecast only rubbed salt in the wound. The Bobcats had to face the Eagles earlier than expected and on a day's rest.
But that didn't slow the Bobcats down. If anything, they sped up. They turned on a dime and trounced the Eagles 81-68 inside The Convo on Thursday afternoon.
"It's different," Ohio coach Jeff Boals said. "We adjusted on the fly yesterday. As coaches and as players, you like routines, you like structure ... You worry about that just with the all these games jammed together as well. But I thought our guys were mature. I thought they came out with a great mindset and focus."
Ohio (18-3, 9-1 MAC) never gave Eastern Michigan a chance. It snatched the lead behind precision shooting beyond the arc and maintained its lead for almost the entire game. Ohio sank four consecutive 3-pointers out of the gate while Eastern Michigan shot blanks for the first 12 minutes. By halftime, Ohio led by double digits and was shooting 53.8% from beyond the arc.
Even when their shooting percentage hit a bump after halftime, the Bobcats played it off. The Eagles tried to dig themselves out with a pair of scoring runs late in the game, but the Bobcats outpaced them. Ben Roderick, who'd been quiet before halftime, knocked down three 3-pointers in the second half to supplement the lead.
"I just think it's being shot ready," Roderick said. "(Carter) and (Vander Plas) do a lot of things in the post for us so that teams run a double team and us guards just got to be shot ready. Those passes are gonna come, and we just got to hit the shots. They've been falling, and we're just gonna continue to do that."
Roderick has been fighting a slump throughout the season. He'd only scored in double figures five times this year prior to Thursday and missed Ohio's last two games due to injury. Last season, he'd been known for his dependability from long range, and he had the best 3-point percentage among Ohio's starting rotation. Before Thursday, he had one game in which he sank more than two 3-pointers.
But the junior broke out Thursday. Roderick scored 19 points, second only to Mark Sears. His shots fell without hassle. He was 8-of-10 from the field and 3-of-4 from beyond the arc. His only missed 3-point attempt came late in the second half while Ohio led by 21 points. Roderick found a groove, and he played with a swagger he's been lacking for much of his junior year.
"I think he looked like the old B-Rod," Boals said. "He wasn't hesitating. I thought he had a really good lift on the ball, which is something he had been working on ... To see those shots go in, that has to elevate your confidence, and our guys were looking for him there a couple times, and he had some big shots."
The Bobcats have been dealt a rough hand this week. Three games in five days doesn't provide them much room to breathe. But that hasn't been a problem thus far. They've beaten both of their opponents this week by double-digit margins, and they surged ahead of the Eagles without any difficulty.
The Bobcats are running through a five-day gauntlet, but they haven't slowed down yet.