ASHLAND, OH - Ohio Christian bounced back from a lackluster performance at Walsh University on Friday night by taking Ashland University to the wire on Saturday evening, eventually falling 76-69. It proved to be a thrilling contest that wrapped up the first semester schedule for OCU. It was the second straight game against an NCAA Division II program, both designated as exhibitions for OCU.
The Trailblazers played even with the host Eagles in the opening 8 minutes. A Nic Baker jump shot at the 13:54 mark tied the score with 13:54 remaining in the first half. A layup by Ernie McCoy knotted up the score at 17-17 with 12:06 left in the opening frame.
Ashland then was able to build a small advantage with 3:27 remaining when Wendell Davis hit a fifteen foot jumper to give the Eagles a 34-29 lead.
OCU continued to give Ashland all they could handle in the second half. A Nic Baker basket with 13:46 remaining in the game gave the Blazers an 11 point lead with the score at 55-44. The 11 point lead would be the largest of the game.
Ashland battled back with a 13-1 run and erased the OCU lead behind a pair of free throws by Dawuan Thomas with 8:44 remaining to lead by one at 57-56.
OCU found themselves trailing by 9 points with 4:17 remaining in the game. With Ashland leading 69-60, Ohio Christian would put together a 9-2 run over the next 3 minutes to get with within 2 points of their NCAA Division II opponent. An Ernie McCoy steal and layup with 0:57 remaining cut the deficit to 2 points with OCU trailing 71-69.
After a free throw by Ashland, the Trailblazers regained possession with 0:45 remaining and trailing 72-69. OCU pushed the ball in transition and was able to attack the rim. With a defender on his hip, Ernie McCoy drew contact but was whistled for an unexpected offensive foul, giving possession back to Ashland.
Ohio Christian missed a pair of three pointers and was forced to foul down the stretch as Ashland went 5 of 6 from the charity stripe to escape with a 76-69 win.
Danny Schrock led OCU with a game-high 16 points on 4 of 8 shooting from downtown. Evin Bartlett and Ernie McCoy each added 11 points each for the Blazers. Evan Mills tallied 9 points while Joe Collier tossed in 7 points. Wesley Russell added 7 points, 11 assists, and 7 rebounds while playing with illness.
Ashland won the battle of the boards, outrebounding OCU 42-36. The Blazers were 10 of 13 from the free throw line while host Ashland had a total of 38 attempts at the charity stripe, converting 25 of them.
OCU is back in action on January 7th as they host Boyce College in the Mid-East Region opener.