Ohio falls short in 59-54 loss to No. 7 Louisville

Ohio coach John Groce wanted a victory. He believed the Bobcats

could beat No. 7 Louisville for the first road win against a top-10

opponent in school history.

They nearly pulled it off. Only, that wasn’t good enough.

”He told us we strive for excellence. We didn’t come here to

play close. We are not into moral victories,” said Reggie Keely,

who scored 11 points in the Bobcats’ 59-54 loss. ”I hope we can

learn from this.”

Ohio held a six-point lead with under 4 minutes to play before

Louisville rallied for the victory in the Global Sports

Invitational on Friday night. Kyle Kuric scored 16 points for the

Cardinals, and Gorgui Dieng grabbed a career-high 16 rebounds.

”Give credit to Louisville. We shot ourselves in the foot with

a couple of turnovers,” Keely said. ”We tried to take away their

3-pointer shooter, Kuric. He made a big shot when he had to.”

Kuric hit a 3 in the corner, made a key steal and helped find

Chris Smith for a fast-break layup that gave Louisville a 53-51

lead with 1:49 left.

After a dunk by Chane Behanan, Ohio’s D.J. Cooper hit a

3-pointer to cut it to 55-54, but T.J. Hall and Cooper missed 3s in

the closing seconds that would’ve tied the game.

Louisville (5-0), which has won 13 straight at the KFC Yum!

Center, got a lift from the surprise return of point guard Peyton

Siva, who missed the previous two games with a severely sprained

left ankle.

The bigger surprise appeared to be the Bobcats, who came close

to springing the upset.

Ohio (3-1) made two comebacks in the second half, including

erasing a nine-point deficit to tie it at 41 with 5:12 left after

Walter Offutt scored twice down low before Hall hit a 3-pointer

that had Louisville coach Rick Pitino calling timeout.

The Bobcats weren’t done.

Kuric missed a jumper and Cooper hit a 3 to give Ohio its first

lead in more than 21 minutes, 46-43. After another Louisville miss,

Cooper followed with a three-point play that left teammate Stevie

Taylor pointing to the sky in delight.

”When we got hit in the mouth, we did not flinch and stayed the

course,” Groce said. ”I think that is why we were in position

near the end but just couldn’t close it out.”

The Cardinals promptly battled back, putting together a 9-0 run

to take a 55-51 lead. Smith hit two free throws and had the

tiebreaking fast-break layup during the spurt.

Cooper hit a 27-foot 3-pointer that cut it to one, but Siva hit

two free throws and neither Hall nor Cooper could hit 3s on Ohio’s

final chance to tie. Behanan hit two free throws for the final

margin and finished with 11 points.

Cooper scored 16 for the Bobcats, who had one of the better

performances against Louisville’s defense, which continues to

throttle opponents by allowing an average of 46 points over the

first five games. The Cardinals outrebounded Ohio 42-34, including

21-16 on the offensive end.

”They are very hard to score against. I knew that coming in,”

Groce said. ”I thought the key to the game would be our ability to

get stops and rebound the ball. At the end of the day, if they

asked me why I thought we got beat, I would have to say that it had

to be the fact that they were plus eight on the glass.”