Athens, Ohio (Nov. 22, 2000) Ohio mens basketball opened its 2000-01 season with a 91-70 win over Rio Grande on Wednesday night at The Convo. Five Bobcats scored in double figures in the game, paced by 18 points from junior Jon Sanderson.
Tonights game was exactly what we needed, explained Bobcat coach Larry Hunter. Unlike our exhibition games, they made us work on the offensive end and not just take a shot after one pass. They double- and even triple-teamed Brandon Hunter inside and kept us away from the basket in the first half. They also handled our pressure and made us work defensively. In the second half, I think we gelled. We were able to use our size and strength advantage and made the extra pass.
The first half was a battle. Ohio used an 11-0 run early in the game to build a 17-7 advantage. But the Redmen, who came in with five games under their belt, fought back to within four points (29-25) with three and a half minutes left in the first half. The Bobcats responded down the stretch. Senior Dustin Ford hit a three-pointer to build the lead back to seven and then capped off the half with a layup to put Ohio ahead 42-31 at the break.
Ohio opened the second half with a 12-2 run to set the tempo for the rest of the game. The Bobcats built a 28-point lead with eight minutes left. At that point, Ohio began to clear its bench, allowing all 14 Bobcats to get quality minutes.
Four of Ohios starters tallied double figures. Sophomore Brandon Hunter earned an 11-11 double-double to pace the squad on the boards. Junior Alex Liatsos came off the bench to add 10 points as 12 of 14 Bobcats netted points.
Rio Grande had two players find double-figure scoring. Nathan Copas scored 14, while Chris Ballenger had 13 points and eight rebounds.
Ohio travels to Nova Scotia to face Niagara on Satruday, Dec. 2 in its next action, kicking off a stretch of eight road games in the next nine outings. The Bobcats return home on December 19 when West Virginia visits The Convo at 7 p.m.
Individual game and season basketball tickets are available through the Ohio Athletics Ticket Office by calling 740-593-1300 or 1-800-575-CATS (2287).