ATHENS, Ohio - The Ohio University men's basketball team (20-8;11-2 MAC) fell 88-81 in overtime to rv/No. 24 Akron (23-4;13-0 MAC) Wednesday evening before 11,109 fans at the Convocation Center.
"I think there were a lot of different mentalities for our team tonight," head coach Jim Christian said. "The first half was the best we've played in a month. The second half we had too much emotion from the game. We didn't attack the way we needed to. Courage took us into overtime."
Senior guard D.J. Cooper led Ohio with a season-best 26 points on 8-of-19 shooting. The Chicago, Ill., product also recorded his 900th career assist in the contest and finished with four assists, five rebounds and two steals.
Only 13 players in the history of NCAA Division I men's basketball have recorded 900 assists in a career.
"We didn't finish out the last minutes in overtime strong," Cooper said. "We just settled, I settled a little bit myself with a couple threes. We didn't finish around the bucket like in the first half."
Cooper made 5-of-10 3-point attempts in the game and has 257 for his career. He needs just two more to set the all-time Ohio record for 3-pointers made.
Senior guard Walter Offutt (Indianapolis, Ind.) turned in a solid performance with 15 points and nine rebounds while Travis Wilkins (12) and Reggie Keely (10) also finished in double digits.
Junior forward Jon Smith (Columbus, Ohio) finished with seven points, six rebounds and a team-high four blocks.
The Bobcats shot an impressive 56.0 percent (14-25) in the first half, but could not keep up that pace in the second. The Bobcats made 12-of-35 attempts (.343) in the second half and were 1-of-5 (.200) in the overtime session.
The Zips shot 50.9 percent for the game and held a 36-35 edge on the glass. Ohio was +12 (19-7) in points off turnovers, but Akron enjoyed an 18-12 advantage in second chance points.
Akron raced out to a 9-0 lead, but the ‘Cats rallied back with a 9-0 run of their own, punctuated by a deep Cooper 3-pointer. From there, the Bobcats used aggressive defense and timely shooting to surge past the Zips.
The Bobcats used two 9-0 runs and combined for a 34-7 spurt to build a 34-16 lead over Akron with 4:33 to go in the opening half. Included in the 14 minute sequence were deep 3-pointers from Cooper and Wilkins and a thunderous jam from Keely.
A 3-pointer from Offutt kept Ohio in front by 13 (41-28) and the Bobcats led 41-30 at the break.
With the Bobcats holding a 45-34 advantage early in the second half, Akron began a 21-4 run that gave the Zips a 55-49 edge with 11:25 remaining in the second half.
Two straight 3-pointers from Cooper tied the game at 63, but Akron pulled ahead by three (68-65) with 3:34 to go in the contest.
Offutt responded with a clutch 3-pointer to knot it at 68, but Akron again rallied with four consecutive points to hold a 72-68 lead with 1:03 left in regulation.
A Keely basket moved Ohio within two with 43 seconds left, and after a defensive stop by Ohio, a tip-in by Smith tied the game at 72 as time expired and sent the contest into overtime.
In the overtime session, the Zips scored eight of the first nine points and led 80-73 with 2:15 remaining. A lay-in by Cooper cut the lead to five (80-75), but Ohio could not move any closer for the remainder of the contest.
Ohio returns to action on Saturday (March 2) with a trip north to battle Bowling Green. Tip-off is scheduled for noon at the Stroh Center. The game will be televised locally on SportsTimeOhio and across the nation on ESPN3. "Voice of the Bobcats" Russ Eisenstein and Rob Cornelius also will call the action live on the Ohio IMG Sports Network powered by Horizon.