Defense Rules the Day as Ohio Downs Stetson

Tommy Schmock
Ohio guard Tommy Schmock (22, earlier this season) hit a late-game 3-pointer to help push the Bobcats to a 55-45 win at Stetson on Saturday, Dec. 11, 2021. Photo courtesy of Ohio Athletics/Colin Mayr

During an afternoon with too few makes on the whole, the Bobcats made due with shots at the biggest moments. 

No, not every game can provide the fluidity and rhythm you want. But at least Ohio University will head back from a post-finals road trip with a – ugly or not – win.

The Bobcats made just seven second-half field goals, and posted their second-lowest scoring total of the season, but still left DeLand, Fla. with a 55-45 win over the host Stetson Hatters on Saturday. Ohio (7-2) won their second straight, and claimed their first win of the season when scoring less than 60 points.

The Bobcats shot just 29.2 percent in the second half (7 of 24) and needed a 9-2 finish to improve to 2-2 on the road this season.

“This was a grind out game,” Ohio coach Jeff Boals said in a postgame radio interview, without a hint of exaggeration.

Stetson (2-6) certainly wasn’t any better on the offensive end. The Hatters were held to a season low, and Ohio managed to post its best defensive numbers – the 45 points allowed and 31.6 percent shooting allowed – of the season.

Ohio was just 1 of 7 from 3 in the second half, part of another tough day from the arc (26.3 percent). The Hatters were worse, shooting 5 of 24 (20.8 percent from 3).

“We won in a different way,” said backup point guard Tommy Schmock, who had the Bobcats’ only 3-pointer of the second half. It came in a huge spot.

Ohio led by 12, at 41-29, with nine minutes remaining. Stetson, however, rallied with a 14-5 run and pulled to within 46-43 with 3:41 remaining on Stephan Swenson’s driving 3-point play.

Ben Vander Plas stuck back his own miss on Ohio’s next possession to make it a five-point game. Two minutes later, Schmock got the ball deep on the left side right in front of the Ohio coaching box on a kick out with the shot-clock running down.

Schmock nailed the shot – his own make of the day – then turned and slapped hands with Boals. Ohio led 51-43 with 90 seconds left and had secured the road win.

“Even though it was deep, I liked it,” Schmock said. “It’s what you do this for.”

Mark Sears led Ohio with 13 points and added seven rebounds. Jason Carter added 10 and six rebounds. Vander Plas finished with seven and nine.

Ohio didn’t shoot it well, gave up 13 offensive rebounds, and tallied just 20 points in the paint. But the Bobcats held on thanks to quality minutes from the bench. Schmock had three points, while freshmen forwards A.J. Clayton (6) and IJ Ezuma (4), and sophomore wing Sam Towns (5) all contributed to an 18-6 in bench points.

“We made some big plays when we had to,” Boals said. “And our bench guys were big for us today.”

Rob Perry bucketed a game-high 17 points and was the only consistent shot-maker on both teams as he hit 8 of 16 from the field. 

Stetson’s last, and largest, lead came six minutes in when Chase Johnston hit a 3-pointer for a 9-4 edge. The Bobcats rattled off a 12-2 run – started by Carter’s turnaround jumpers and finished by Sears’ 3-pointer – for a 16-11 lead and never trailed again.

Ohio led 24-14, but managed just one field goal over the last 7:30 of the first half and settled for a 29-21 margin at the break.

Stetson closed to within 31-28 early in the second half, but a 10-1 spurt fueled by five points from Towns gave OU the 12-point lead with 9:13 remaining.

The victory moved the Bobcats to 2-0 all-time against Stetson, and marked the final road non-conference game of the season. Ohio returns to the Convocation Center on Wednesday night for a 7 p.m. start against former MAC rival Marshall (7-3).

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