ATHENS, Ohio – Lamar University got 20 points from Mike James, and 18 from Charlie Harper on Tuesday night at the Convocation Center, but it was not enough as Ohio University outlasted the Cardinals for an 85-78 overtime basketball victory.
Lamar will return to the Montagne Center on Saturday when it hosts Charlotte at 11 a.m. The Cardinals (1-2) have now dropped two road games after opening the season with a 65-62 home win over Arkansas State. Ohio moves to 2-0 with the win.
The 49ers, of the Atlantic 10, are 2-0 with wins over N.C. Central (73-57) and Central Michigan (77-72, 2OT). The team returned four starters from last year's 10-20 group.
Trailing by four with just over a minute to play in regulation, Lamar got a pair of free throws from perhaps its unlikeliest of players in sophomore Osas Ebomwonyi. The 6-foot-11 forward was just 2-of-10 from the line last year, and was 0-4 through two games this season.
After a turnover by Ohio’s Nick Kellogg, Lamar tied the game at 71 with 24 seconds to play when Harper put back an Anthony Miles miss. The Bobcats’ D.J. Cooper got an open look, but couldn’t knock it down with two seconds to play and the game went to overtime.
Unfortunately, Lamar couldn’t continue its hot second half shooting in the extra period. Lamar was 14-of-28 from the floor in the second half, and an impressive 11-of-13 from the free throw line. The Cards hit just three baskets in the extra period, and the last was a 3-pointer by Miles when the game was out of reach.
“We’re having some problems from an offensive standpoint; bad choices, shot selection, game management,” said LU head coach Pat Knight on what happened in the overtime period. “I don’t think fatigue was a factor. Ohio just played the other night against Tennessee-Martin too. It was from a mental standpoint. We’ve got to get smarter.”
Cooper, who led all players with 21 points, gave the Bobcats the lead for good when he hit a trey just 22 seconds into the overtime for a 74-71 lead. Lamar twice cut it to one point, but a Walter Offutt three-point play gave Ohio a 79-75 lead, and the Cards would get no closer.
Lamar struggled to keep the Bobcats off the offensive glass, ceding 18 offensive rebounds to its hosts which Ohio converted into a healthy 20-8 advantage in second chance points. Ohio also outscored Lamar 17-9 off turnovers.
Lamar had its biggest lead of the game with 9:38 to play in the first half after Brandon Davis hit back-to-back 3-pointers to push the Cardinals ahead 19-13. Stevie Taylor knocked down a jumper to cap an 11-3 Ohio run that gave the Bobcats a 24-22 lead, and they would close the first half up 34-29.
James finished with a season-high 20 points on 7-of-20 shooting. He was a solid 6-of-11 from inside the arc, but converted just 1-of-9 3-point attempts. James did hand out a career-high six assists.
Harper also scored a season-high with his 18 points, but was an efficient 6-of-10 from the floor. The 6-foot-5 senior from San Antonio hit 5-of-7 from the free throw line, adding a team-high seven rebounds.
Ebomwonyi played 30 minutes for LU, the most he has played since becoming a Cardinal. He finished with a career-high seven points, and also matched his career-best by picking up four of Lamar’s five blocked shots in the contest.
The Bobcats had four players score at least 13 points. Junior forward Ivo Baltic had 14 points and nine boards, while Taylor came off the bench to score 14 in just 13 minutes of action. Offutt added 13 points and nine rebounds, hitting all seven of his free throw attempts.