Ohio's (2-1) 71-52 win over Detroit Mercy featured strong defensive play, offensive contributions from Ohio's unsung heroes and Senior Guard Jaylin Hunter picking up his 1,000th point as a college basketball player.
Clayton led the Bobcats' offense from the very first moments of the game. Clayton scored Ohio's first six points with two 3-point jumpers. Despite a lopsided final score, Ohio had some offensive woes in the first half. They only managed to score two points in the six minutes following Clayton's second made 3-pointer. That slump was at least partially for Ohio only shooting 34.5% from the field in the first half and 28.6% from three.
Another reason Ohio struggled to score in the first half was the difficulties AJ Brown faced to score. Brown, Ohio's leading scorer entering the game, failed to convert any of his six field goal attempts in the first half which included five misses from three. Luckily for Ohio, the team's defensive proficiency allowed the team to carry a ten-point lead into halftime.
Ohio head coach Jeff Boals discussed how AJ Brown and the Bobcats were not discouraged by early misses.
"One thing I liked about AJ Brown was he didn't really let his shooting affect the other parts of his game," Boals said. "Sometimes when you miss, miss, miss, you don't rebound, you don't defend and I thought he did a good job of doing that."
In the second half, it was more of the same for the Bobcats. Clayton hit his third 3-point jumper of the game while Hunter made a layup to give Ohio a 12-point lead. The Titans had their first bit of offensive momentum with a 9-2 scoring run sparked by strong play from Edoardo Del Cadia. The Bobcats were quick to respond with a run that made history for Hunter.
The run started with two free throws by Clayton, Hunter made a transition three to get within two points of the 1,000 mark. On the very next play, Hunter forced a steal and was fed a great pass from Ike Cornish which led to a slam dunk. The dunk was Hunter's 11th and 12th points of the game and the 1,000th point of his career.
Although Hunter's 14 points will be remembered due to the 1,000-point accomplishment, the senior guard finished the game with a team-high 10 rebounds and a team-leading six assists.
Cornish, the former Maryland transfer, was the Bobcats' leading scorer off the bench with 12 points. Three of Cornish's points came off an impressive and-1 layup to put Ohio up 15 points.
Clayton hit one more 3-point jumper in the second half to all but end the Titans' hopes with seven minutes to go. Ohio's defensive attitude continued to end the game, and Ohio came out on top 71-52.
Clayton finished the game as Ohio's leading scorer with 18 points on 6/7 of shooting.
"Jaylin was having his night, he's a great passer, he kept finding me," Clayton said. "We're a deep team; anybody can go off on a given night. You have got to guard us all; one of us is going to be open. I'm just lucky enough that it was me."
Ohio appeared to address a lot of the weaknesses it showed against Cleveland State. Ohio out-rebounded Detroit Mercy and managed to only commit 13 fouls in the entire game.
"I thought this was a great team win for us today," Boals said. "Congratulations to Jaylin Hunter."