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Ohio sets the pace early, thumps UNCW

Bobcats build 13-0 lead by forcing 6 staight turnovers to start game

Lonnie McMillan Photo
ATHENS, Ohio – Ohio scored the game’s first 13 points, kept UNCW off the scoreboard for nearly six minutes and forced 26 turnovers, rolling to an 85-47 victory Friday night at The Convo.

The Seahawks (1-2) committed 17 first-half turnovers, giving the ball back to the Bobcats (2-0) on their first six possessions and not even attempting a field goal until more than three minutes into the game while already trailing 13-0.

“One thing I’ve learned about this group is they play the game very smart,” Ohio coach Jim Christian said. “A lot of the steals, they’re anticipating the action before it happens. They take great pride in understanding what the emphasis is and go out and do it.”

After a poor shooting game to open the season Saturday against Portland, Ivo Baltic made 10 of 12 shots and scored 20 points to go with six rebounds to lead Ohio. D.J. Cooper dished out 14 assists and scored nine points with four steals.

Reggie Keely scored 14 points and grabbed seven rebounds and Walter Offutt finished with 11 points and seven boards.

Keith Rendleman had 17 points and seven rebounds to lead the Seahawks, but none of his teammates finished with more than seven points or three boards.

Offutt had six points and Baltic four during the early spurt. Tanner Wilson finally got UNCW on the board with a 3-pointer at the 13:54 mark. His team closed the gap to as close as 18-11 on a Chris Dixon jumper with 11:14 remaining, but the Bobcats went on to outscore the Seahawks, 19-6, the rest of the half to take a 37-17 lead into the locker room.

“The start of the game, it’s easy to see how their pressure really affected us up front with so many turnovers,” UNCW coach Buzz Williams said. “We talked about being a good defensive team. It’s hard when you have so many mistakes on offense. Ohio, you’ve got to give them a lot of credit. They’ve got very fast guards and a very fast team overall. … They did a nice job of doubling down on Keith inside and also pushing the ball in transition.”

Ohio also started the second half strong, taking a 49-21 lead on a Cooper jumper with 14:32 remaining. UNCW chipped away to close the gap to 18 at 62-44 with 6:06 remaining on a Rendelman free throw.

Momentum swung back to the Bobcats in a dominant final six minutes. Ricardo Johnson scored a layup on a Cooper assist and then Cooper assisted a pair of Baltic dunks with a Cooper layup in between. It was all part of a 17-0 run, capped by a David McKinley 3-pointer with 2:15 remaining, making it 79-44.

“I just go out there and play by feel, whatever the defense gives me,” Cooper said.

Nick Goff and Johnson added treys down the stretch as the Bobcats closed out the game by scoring 23 of the final 26 points.

The Bobcats shot 57.6 percent for the game, including 65.6 percent in the second half. The Seahawks made good on 43.6 percent of their shots.

Ohio also held a 35-23 advantage on the boards, giving up only five offensive rebounds while grabbing 12. Christian said that was an emphasis, especially with the Seahawks’ Rendelman and Cedrick Williams both averaging 10 rebounds per game.

“Phenomenal,” Christian said. “It was a huge emphasis. We started on Monday just showing clips of those two guys. It was a goal, not to outrebound them, but to get 72 percent of the defensive rebounds and we did that. Twelve offensive rebounds was the goal. We put it on the board.”

The Bobcats play their second of three games in five days when they host Wofford at 2 p.m. Sunday.

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 Ohio vs. UNCW

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