Over the weekend, Ohio matched up with three opponents in the Nassau Championship in the Bahamas. Ohio won games against Brown and Middle Tennessee State but fell in its first game to George Washington in a double-overtime thriller.
With two wins, Ohio finished fifth place for the weekend and saw some encouraging offensive performances.
Game One - George Washington
On Friday, Ohio took on a George Washington team that came into the quarterfinal at 4-0. With a final score of 99-94, Ohio lost heartbreakingly after forcing two overtime periods.
The Bobcats' 94 points count for the most that the team has scored all season; of course, they had some bonus time to reach that mark, but the team performed well on offense throughout the game. Ohio had nine players score points, including Shereef Mitchell and Jaylin Hunter, who each had 20+.
Ohio pushed the game into overtime after a dominant second-half performance from the team. Heading into halftime, Ohio was down by 10 and appeared outmatched on both sides of the court.
Coming out of halftime, Ohio showed resilience as a team and started to amend its plethora of mistakes and missed shots in the first half of the game. The Bobcats had 10 turnovers in the first half alone; the team rebounded by committing only eight more in the second half and two overtime periods combined.
Another factor in a second-half comeback was Ohio’s ability to shoot the three. Ohio started shooting 2-11 from three but did not let the slow start hinder their willingness to shoot in the second half. Led by Mitchell, Ohio shot 6-16 from three in the second half. Mitchell converted back-to-back threes late in the second half that tied the score for the first time since early in the game.
Ohio saw better shooting in the second half, but the team’s defense is what allowed it to get back into the game. Ohio created 21 turnovers in the game defensively and was able to score 21 points off of those turnovers.
After Ohio tied the game late in the second half, the teams traded baskets back and forth until George Washington’s Maximus Edwards caught fire in the second overtime period.
Edwards made two contested three-pointers early in the half, giving George Washington a lead that Ohio could not recover from.
Despite the loss, Ohio played some of its best basketball in the latter half of the game, setting the tone for a successful weekend in the Bahamas.
Game Two - Middle Tennessee State
Matching up with Middle Tennessee State on Saturday, Ohio came away with its largest margin of victory for the weekend by a final score of 80-68.
Ohio carried its momentum from Friday into Saturday. The team shot 59.3% from the field: its highest mark of the season.
Ohio’s high shooting percentage was led by a career game from 6 feet 8 inch forward AJ Clayton. With 15 points, Clayton was Ohio’s second-leading scorer behind only Hunter. Clayton scored all 15 points from the three-point line, knocking down 5 of 6 shots from long range.
Clayton headlined one of a few Bobcats who had a spectacular performance from across the whole weekend in the Bahamas. Clayton averaged over 10 points a game across the three-game span and went 6-8 on three-pointers in the final two games of the weekend.
Ohio was able to hold a steady lead throughout the game on Saturday despite leading by only two at the half. MTSU went on an 8-0 at the end of the half after Ohio had surmounted as much as a 9-point lead at the half.
Once again, Ohio made halftime adjustments and came out of the locker room better than when they entered. Only 6 minutes into the second half, Ohio had built its lead back up to 10 points.
Interestingly, Ohio scored 40 points without even attempting a free throw in the first half.
Every time it looked like MTSU was going to make a run, Ohio’s offense went down the court and responded by making big shots early on in the half.
Hunter led the Ohio offense all weekend and played exceptionally well with 19 points and three assists against MTSU.
Once the clock showed inside 10 minutes, Ohio started to run away with the game. The team went on an 8-0 run over two minutes to take a lead that sealed the game.
Game Three - Brown
In Ohio’s final game of the weekend against Brown, it was competing for a fifth-place finish that it obtained with an 82-77 win.
In the first 17 minutes of the first half, Ohio looked as good as it has all year. The Bobcats took a lead of as many as 19 in the half and were dominating in every aspect of the game.
Ohio’s lead was quickly depleted by Brown, who stayed resilient to go on a 10-0 run in the final three minutes of the half that cut Ohio’s lead to just nine. Despite holding a 9-point lead and playing great Basketball, Ohio seemed to have lost all of its momentum heading into the half.
Ohio scored 38 points in the first half, led by Mitchell. At the half, Mitchell had a team-leading 8 points and had yet to miss a single shot. The Creighton transfer was unable to finish the game with a perfect 100% from the field but still led Ohio with 24 points on 7-9 shooting.
Coming out of the half, Brown cut Ohio’s lead to as few as 6 in the early minutes of the half before Mitchell continued his impressive day with another three-point play that started a Bobcat run to inflate the lead back to 16.
Brown did not go away easily. The team went blow for blow with Ohio and got the game to one score with under two minutes left at 76-73.
Ohio seemed to have lost all life on offense, going on a scoring drought of several minutes late in the game. After a timeout from head coach Jeff Boals, Mitchell sealed the game for Ohio, capping off an incredible game and weekend. Inside one minute, Mitchell converted a difficult contested layup under the basket and then ran back on defense to force a quick turnover that ended Brown’s comeback attempt.
Mitchell led the team in points and made impressive plays in crunch time, but sophomore Elmore James may have had the largest impact on the game. James nearly finished with a double-double at 18 points and eight rebounds. James’ eight rebounds were the most on the team and were accompanied by a team-leading four assists.
Against Brown, Ohio seemed to find the cohesion and offensive efficiency that it has been missing with a relatively new group of players that have not played many games alongside one another.