ATHENS, Ohio – Mid-American Conference favorite Ohio scored the first 13 points of the game and forced 26 turnovers to blow past visiting UNCW, 85-47, in a non-conference men’s basketball tilt Friday night at the OU Convocation Center.
The Bobcats won their 12th consecutive home game spanning two seasons and moved to 2-0 with their second straight double digit win in Jim Christian’s first season in Athens. The Seahawks dipped to 1-2 and has lost back-to-back road games following a season-opening verdict over UNC Asheville.
“It was sort of like a deer in headlights look,” said third-year UNCW Head Coach Buzz Peterson. “When you have a lot of turnovers, it’s hard to get into your offense. The last two games have been disappointing. We’ve got to buckle up and go at it in Sunday’s practice to get ready for the Purdue game next week.”
Senior forward Ivo Baltic anchored four players in double figures for the Bobcats with a game-high 20 points. Senior forward Reggie Keely added 14 points off the bench, senior guard Walter Offutt scored 11 and junior guard Nick Kellogg contributed 10 for OU, which shot 57.6 percent in the contest.
MAC Tournament MVP D.J. Cooper wound up with nine points on just six field goal attempts and dished out 14 assists in 29 minutes of action.
Senior forward Keith Rendleman was the only Seahawk in double digits with 17 points on 6-of-7 shooting and added seven rebounds.
The Bobcats scored at a rapid rate early and capitalized on several Seahawk turnovers to build a 20-point halftime lead, 37-17, and increased the margin to as many as 40 points in the second half before the final 38-point deficit. UNCW has lost its last two outings to Richmond and Ohio by 43 and 38 points.
“We have to value the basketball,” Peterson added. “We’ve been really outmatched in the last two games. When you take care of the ball on offensive end, it also helps you on the other end.”
Kellogg, son of former Ohio State great and ESPN commentator Clark Kellogg, drained a long three-ball to open the game and another triple – this time by Offutt – staked the Bobcats to a quick 13-0 advantage just three minutes into the contest.
UNCW, which committed eight miscues in the first six minutes, finally broke into the scoring column at 14:10 when junior guard Tanner Milson sank a triple above the circle.
Still trailing, 18-3, the Seahawks strung together an 8-0 run to slice the Bobcat lead to 18-11. Four different players scored for UNCW and a layup by junior guard Chris Dixon, his first field goal of the season, chopped the deficit to seven points with just over 11 minutes remaining in the opening period.
But OU responded with a 17-4 rally, including a 10-0 spurt, to bolt out to its big lead at halftime. With the Seahawks struggling offensively and committing turnovers at an alarming rate, the Bobcats cranked up their offense. Baltic did most of the damage, scoring six points in the stretch, and the Kansas City product wound up with 10 points at the break.
The Seahawks closed within 22 points early in the second period and narrowed the deficit to 16 points at the six-minute mark behind the play of Rendleman. Behind 60-36, Dylan Sherwood hit a bucket in the left corner and Rendleman added an alley-oop basket and free throw to cap an 8-2 mini-run to chip the lead to 62-44 at 6:06.
The Bobcats, who shot 65.6 percent in the second period, responded with a suffocating 17-0 run to put the game out of reach and keep the Seahawks winless in three tries at the Convocation Center. OU has not lost at home since a win over Robert Morris back on Jan. 2, 2012.
The Seahawks return home briefly before returning to the Midwest to battle Big Ten Conference power Purdue next Wednesday, Nov. 21, in a Thanksgiving Eve clash at historic Mackey Arena.
GAME NOTES: OU has won four of the five games in the series between the two teams…The Seahawks stand 8-10 lifetime against MAC opponents…Friday’s contest was the second in four games of the Nations of Coaches Classic…Ohio outscored UNCW in the paint, 42-26…The Bobcats outrebounded the Seahawks, 35-23…OU had 16 steals…Ohio natives C.J. Gettys and Nate Anderson started the game for the Seahawks…UNCW went 11-of-18 at the free throw line after setting a school record with 19-of-19 in the last matchup vs. Richmond…Ohio scored 27 of its points off fast break opportunities.