BUFFALO, NY - Ohio doesn't have DJ Cooper anymore, but it appears it hasn't stopped them from breaking the hearts of the UB Bulls, and their fans.
Cooper, who spent most of his four years as a Bobcat making incredible shots in big time situations at the Bulls expense, wasn't on the court Saturday afternoon, but the Bobcats pulled off some Cooper-like magic, erasing a ten-point second half lead to defeat the Bulls 73-70 in front of 5,052 at Alumni Arena.
"I was just proud of how we stayed together," said Ohio head coach Jim Christian. "We could've came apart when they went up the with about nine and change to go, we found a way to find a win. Obviously we don't like our formula but we just keep winning the same way. I don't know how we're doing it but we're finding ways to win."
The Bulls led by ten with seven minutes left but went 5:38 without a field goal and had a series of poor shots which allowed Ohio to go up two, 65-63 thanks to a 12-0 run. The Bulls regained a one-point edge with 2:23 remaining but couldn't hold on. Will Regan missed the front end of a one-and-one with 1:22 left which resulted in a go-ahead layup by Antonio Campbell.
UB had a chance at the end with 7.0 seconds left and down by three, but sophomore Jarynn Skeete had the ball stolen away which ended any chance at overtime.
"We did a lot of good things today, but we need to find ways to close out games," said head coach Bobby Hurley. "We just have to do a better job of being more stable and working through some tough stretches. Outside of that, I thought our guys fought extremely hard and it was a high-level game on both ends."
The Bulls saw a nine-point lead slip away in the first half as well, finishing the half with no field goals in the final 3:27. They trailed by two at half when Ohio closed out on a 13-2 run.
Ohio was without starting point guard Stevie Taylor who missed the game with a bruised calf, and also got limited minutes from senior guard TJ Hall who turned his ankle early in the game. They got 17 points each from Maurice Ndour and Nick Kellogg while shooting 48 percent from the floor, and nearly 40 percent from three as a team.
UB had three players in double-figures with Javon McCrea leading the way with 18 points and eight rebounds. Shannon Evans scored 13 points, grabbed six boards, and dished out four assists, while Josh Freelove netted 10 points.
This marks the seventh straight loss for the Bulls against the Bobcats with their last win dating back to the 2010-11 season when they picked up a road win. The loss also snaps the Bulls unbeaten record at Alumni Arena this season, dropping them to 10-1 overall on their home floor.
Ohio next takes on Western Michigan at home on Feb. 19. Tip off is slated for 7 pm. The Bulls are off until Wednesday when they get another big MAC test when they host Toledo at 7 pm.