Statesmen unable to stop Bobcats in the paint

New Hope Christian had another opportunity to add to its resume on Saturday night when it hosted the Southern Ohio Conference Division I-leading Green Bobcats inside the Ohio Christian Maxwell Center.

The Statesmen tried to make a run in the fourth quarter and rally for the win but fell short in a 61-57 setback.

Clayton Rhyne shot 9 of 22 (40.9 percent) from the field to lead the Statesmen with 28 points. The senior wing also added six rebounds. Lane Bruning posted a double-double of 12 points and 12 rebounds, and Hunter Cavanaugh scored eight points and dished out four assists.

New Hope’s Hunter Cavanaugh contributed eight points and four assists.

The deficit the Statesmen faced in the fourth quarter on Saturday could be traced back to two quarters prior.

New Hope led 23-19 halfway through the period, but Green tore off a 13-3 run to go into halftime with a 32-26 advantage.

“We went a little cold and had two-to-three poor offensive possessions that Green took advantage of,” New Hope coach Shane Roese said.

After an even third quarter between the Statesmen (9-4) and Bobcats (14-4), Green was able to finally stretch its lead to 55-46 with 3:20 remaining.

That’s when the Statesmen tried to rally, using a pair of three-pointers from Rhyne and Bruning and an old-fashioned three-point play courtesy of Xander Rink to knot the score at 55-55 with 1:35 remaining.

The two teams traded baskets to knot the score again at 57-57 with a minute left on the clock. The Bobcats pulled out the win by knocking down a three with 30 seconds remaining and then hitting a pair of free throws to nab their 14th win of the season.

“We just didn’t play for 32 minutes tonight, 24 minutes against a good team won’t get it done,” Roese said.

Green had 15 turnovers to nine for the Statesmen, but New Hope was unable to take advantage with both teams settling for 13 points off turnovers.

New Hope held a small 14-8 advantage in transition points, but it wasn’t enough to overcome Green’s 38-24 advantage of scoring in the paint.

“We normally make a couple of runs with our defensive pressure, but we were never able to do that tonight, plus we gave away too many buckets in the past,” Roese said.

The Bobcats shot 25 of 47 (53.2 percent) from the field, compared to 20 of 57 (35.1 percent) for the Statesmen.

“Green did a nice job of clogging the lane and since they shot it so well, we struggled at getting into transition. We just felt a little out of sync at times on offense tonight,” Roese said.

The Statesmen are slated to host the Marion Hawks on Tuesday night inside the Statehouse. Their game against Vinton County, previously scheduled for Tuesday has been moved to Feb. 4 at Ohio Christian. Tip-off for both games will be at 6 p.m. for junior varsity, with varsity to follow.

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