Ohio (5-3) saw its three-game winning streak end on Wednesday when it fell to Youngstown State (6-3) by a final score of 78-72.
Ohio started the game by missing its first six shots from the field. On the defensive end, Ohio held Youngstown State to its own tough shooting start. Nevertheless, Ohio found itself tied at five at the end of the first five minutes.
Ohio would end the night shooting 40% from the field and 33% from three.
"I think we have to trust the work that we're putting in," Ohio guard Shereef Mitchell said. "I think on our shots, we can't think so much. We just have to follow our mechanics and do what we do every day in the gym. I think the shots will fall but it's something we need to be better at and something that we can be better at."
Ohio's 40% shooting night was greatly inflated by a run in the game's last three minutes that saw the team make seven of its last eight shots.
Despite the tough shooting night, Ohio could stay neck and neck with Youngstown State for most of the first half. With 4:29 remaining in the half, Ohio held a narrow lead. The Penguins went on a run to end the half, forcing Ohio into a scoring drought that it would never recover from.
Heading into halftime, Ohio trailed 31-28 and shot 28% from the field in the half.
*Going into the game, you have a good idea how you're going to get your shots by the way the other team guards," Ohio Coach Boals said. "… We knew we had to get the ball in the paint. We were going to be able to get the ball in the paint. Now you either have to finish it or make that extra pass, and I don't think we did enough of each."
Coming out for the second half, the Ohio offense picked up where it left off with a very slow start. Youngstown State found its offense early on in the first half, led by fifth-year senior Brandon Rush.
Rush ended the game with a team-leading 19 points on 7-16 shooting.
Ohio's struggles in the second half stemmed partly from an inability to rebound. On the day, the Bobcats were outrebounded 42-31, allowing Youngstown State to grab 15 offensive rebounds.
"We are going to rebound better, no ifs ands or buts about it," Shereef Mitchell said. "We gotta box out, limit them to only one shot. Talking about our transition game, when we're in transition, we're tough to guard, so that's hard to do when we allow second chance points and second chance opportunities."
A highlight of the game for Ohio was productive minutes off the bench from sophomore Aidan Hadaway.
"I think that Delaware game was a high-confidence game for him. When you play those minutes and produce like he did, yeah, it was the first time he was really in there during crunch time," Boals said. "… This is a good game for him because he's such a good cutter and mover without the ball, and once he got the ball inside, he is one of those guys who can finish really well for us."
Hadaway had a career-high 14 points off the bench for the Bobcats while shooting 2-3 from three and 6-10 from the field.
While Ohio had one of its most disappointing offensive performances of the season, the defense for Ohio remained staunch, forcing 15 turnovers from the Youngstown State offense.