CINCINNATI, OH - The Trailblazers (1-1) came up short at NAIA Cincinnati Christian on Saturday evening, falling 86-81 in a very close basketball game on the final day of the CCU Tip-Off Classic.
The host Golden Eagles jumped out to an early 9-0 lead on the Blazers in the first two minutes of the game. OCU found themsevles down 12 points at the 14:53 mark with the score at 16-4.
The Trailblazers would rally back with a 13-4 run of their own at the 10:29 mark, as they trailed 17-20. A three point basket by Ernie McCoy with 3:20 to play, would even the score up at 36-36. A pair of baskets by JJ Smith and Lawrence Parsons would help OCU take a 42-39 lead heading into halftime.
The second half was once again a back and forth battle. The Blazers extended their lead to as many as eight points early on in the second half with OCU leading 48-40 with 17:30 remaining. Cincinnati answered back with a 10-0 run to steal back the momentum and take the lead at 50-48.
With Ohio Christian trailing 64-58 with ten minutes remaining, forward Evan Mills got going with a pair of three point baskets to put the Trailblazers back in the game. An Ernie McCoy three point basket then gave OCU a 71-68 lead with 7 minutes remaining.
A layup and a three point basket by CCU guard, DJ McCommons, put the Golden Eagles back in front at 79-74 with 1:06 remaining in the game. OCU fought back to pull within three points with score at 82-79 with 33.6 second left. After a stop, OCU regained possession and setup for a play after a timeout. Trailing by three, OCU inbounded the ball and lined up for the three point shot, but it was blocked.
OCU was forced to foul and send Cincinnati Christian to the free throw line. CCU converted their free throws and went on to win 86-81.
OCU lost the battle of the boards 44-29 which proved to be a big factor in the game. Cincinnati Christian also won the battle at the charity stripe as the Golden Eagles hit 27 of 35 free throw attempts compared to Ohio Christian who hit just 9 of 11 free throw attempts.
Ernie McCoy led all scorers with a game-high 26 points on 10 of 12 shooting. Wesley Russell had 14 points and 7 assists in the loss. Freshman phenom, JJ Smith, was once again a big factor with 13 points and 6 rebounds. Evan Mills was solid as he chipped in 12 points.
CCU was led by all-conference big man Kenny Gaynor who tallied 22 points, 10 rebounds, and 6 assists.
OCU is back in action on Thursday as they host Northland International University. The game is set to tip-off at 8:00 PM in Maxwel Leadership Center.