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Guard Elmore James (1) lines up for a free throw against Troy at the Convcocation Center at Ohio Universithy in Athens, Ohio Nov. 8, 2023

Men’s Basketball: Ohio overcomes double-digit deficit to beat Delaware

Ohio (5-2) was able to overcome a Delaware team that came into The Convo with an impressive 5-2 record. The Bobcats defeated the Blue Hens 74-73 after having a lead for only 3 minutes and 12 seconds in 40 total minutes of basketball. 

Ohio even saw a deficit of 11 points with 13 minutes and 54 seconds remaining in the game but was still able to find a way to win. 

Coming into the game, Ohio was without its head coach, Jeff Boals, who was unable to be on the sidelines as a result of COVID-19 protocols. Assistant Lamar Thornton stepped in as head coach and led the team to its largest comeback victory of the season. 

“We talked about going into this game that we knew there was going to be adversity at some point,” Thornton said. “With three fifth-year seniors, (we) just stay together and we’re going to lean on those guys to help us get through this valley together, and those guys stayed together; they were resilient.” 

Ohio had one of its worst halves of the season in the first half versus Delaware. Scoring a season-low 28 points in the first half on just 31% shooting. 

Despite its season-low 28 points in the first half, Ohio entered halftime with only an 8-point deficit at 28-36. 

“One possession at a time; I said ‘We just have to keep chopping wood,'” Thornton said. “If you’re not scoring, find a way to impact winning. No matter if you’re on the bench, no matter if you played well, no matter if you’re playing well, find a way to impact success today … They just kept fighting.”

Coming out of the half, Ohio cut the lead to as few as 5 points before allowing Delaware to go on a run that inflated its lead to as many as 11. With 13 minutes and 54 seconds remaining, trailing by double-digits, lacking its head coach and any offensive consistency, it seemed that Ohio was all but dead. 

In the final 14 minutes of the game, Ohio’s best players found ways to impact the game without scoring. An unstoppable offensive effort from Delaware became stoppable; an unbreakable interior defense from Delaware became breakable. With it all, Delaware’s 11-point lead vanished. 

“One of our biggest things right now is impacting winning without scoring,” Thornton said. “There were some toughness plays that we made down the stretch of the game.”

Ohio was led down the stretch by guards Jaylin Hunter and Elmore James, who each finished with 15-plus points.  

“We have an extremely deep team, everyone is bought in right now and that shows every time that we step foot on the floor,” James said.

Hunter was able to lay in what would be the game-winning basket, which was followed by a defensive rebound from James to win the game for the Bobcats. 

Delaware held a steady lead throughout most of the game but was unable to inflate that lead to a point of no return for Ohio. Though they trailed for a majority of the game, the Bobcats, led by James, always had an answer to any kind of Delaware run. 

The Blue Hens’ largest run of the game was only 6-0. 

As the time on the clock ticked away, Ohio remained resilient and kept knocking down big shots to chip away at a big Delaware lead. 

Ohio kept getting better as the second half progressed, which culminated in Hunter’s game-winning layup in the paint, followed by back-to-back defensive stops. 

“(We learned) that we’re not invincible at home,” Hunter said. “It’s a big home-court advantage but maybe we were a little complacent today … Maybe we were too comfortable to start it off. Obviously, we figured it out toward the end, but knowing that we’re not invincible at home, we have to play the same way.”


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