Ohio (2-2) came out victorious against IUPUI (1-5) to earn its second win of the season, with a 75-71 final score. From start to finish, it was a close game that saw successful stretches from both teams on each side of the ball.
The two teams showcased different approaches as they fought for an early advantage. Ohio hit three early threes and a handful of free throws while IUPUI took an interior approach, not taking its first three until the first half of the period had already passed. However, the Jaguars maintained a short lead throughout the majority of the first quarter, with the Bobcats not taking the lead until there were just over 4 minutes on the clock in the first.
In past games, specifically against Appalachian State and Morehead State, Ohio was plagued by turnovers, preventing them from getting going offensively. While the Bobcats – as well as the Jaguars – were called for several travels early in the game, they held on to the ball for the majority of the game, giving their opponent very few opportunities to dominate the possession game.
However, despite the improvements in the turnover department against IUPUI, head coach Bob Bolden still believes the team has room to grow, especially with some sloppy drives that led to Ohio getting into foul trouble on avoidable charge calls.
“It’s better,“ Bolden said. "It was definitely less than 29 (turnovers against Morehead State). It still isn’t where it needs to be. It’s certainly something that we’re working on and we’re cognizant of, so we’re trying our best to limit our numbers.”
A bright spot in the game was the three-point shooting for Ohio, which started to open up the game after the halftime break. Ohio came out of the first two quarters shooting 70% from three but would only drive that number up early in the third when they opened the second half with three straight triples, taking their largest lead of the game.
A major factor in Ohio’s ability to kill momentum with their three-point shooting came from the shot-making of Jaya McClure, the team's leading scorer and game leader with 21 points and five assists.
“They (the Jaguars) are kind of used to me going downhill, but the more they step back, I mean the shot’s open,” McClure said. “It just gets me to be able to get in there and suck a lot of people in and create offense for the rest of the team.”
McClure’s ability to come in and make a big shot was crucial in Ohio coming away with a win and establishing The Convo as a place that teams are wary to come into. Looking ahead, Ohio has one more home game against Longwood on Wednesday before facing off against arguably the toughest two opponents on the schedule in back-to-back games with fifteenth-ranked Ohio State and 5-1 Syracuse.
Ahead of those two games, Bolden kept the goal simple: do what needs to be done to limit turnovers.
“I know Ohio (State) pressed last year … so obviously trying to limit that turnover number is going to be important,“ Bolden said. "We turn it over 20 to 30 times against them; we're going to have a lot of trouble. Syracuse has traditionally played a lot of zone, and again, they create a lot of turnovers …You’ve got to get shots every possession.”
It is a tough stretch ahead of Bolden and the Bobcats, but the game against IUPUI, as well as Wednesday’s game against Longwood, present a crucial opportunity for the Bobcats to build momentum as they head into the toughest portion of their schedule and then into conference play.