KETTERING — If John Ahrns could have seen the final stats of Monday’s basketball game before it was played, the Beavercreek coach would have expected a victory.
“There’s not a single stat on this stat sheet I wouldn’t have taken,” Ahrns said.
Playing University High School from Illinois in the Flyin’ to the Hoop basketball showcase event at Fairmont’s Trent Arena, the Beavers were even or better in almost every category. And the Beavers held Ohio State recruit Keita Bates-Diop, ranked in everyone’s top 30 nationally, to just 17 points after he erupted for 31 the day before.
The Beavers even had the high scorer for the game, senior Airius Moore, who had 18 points playing all but 54 seconds.
But somehow the stats and the final score didn’t mesh as the Beavers lost 71-59.
“Again we’re struggling in the most important possessions of the game,” Ahrns said. “We just couldn’t get over the hump.”
Many would have expected Diop, the 6-foot-7 all-everything for the 15-3 Pioneers, to be that proverbial hump. But he was rather pedestrian after wowing the crowd a day before.
Unfortunately, so was the Beavers second-half shooting as they made just 10 of 34 shots, many without anyone around them. With everything else pretty much a draw, shooting was the difference.
“If you’ve got an open shot, you’ve got to be able to knock it down,” Moore said.
Beavercreek did knock down the shots early and led almost the entire first half. But they trailed 30-28 at halftime and 37-28 just 2:27 into the third quarter. Following a ‘Creek timeout, the Beavers went on a 9-2 run and trailed 39-37 after an Alec Stein 3-pointer.
That’s as close as Beavercreek (11-4) would get, however.
The Pioneers opened the lead back to 10 before Stein nailed a 3-pointer on a fast break and Moore banked in a 3-pointer from the top of the key at the buzzer and the Beavers were down just 47-43 after three periods.
University opened the fourth with an 11-4 run over the first 3:30 to take a 58-47 lead and Beavercreek got no closer than nine the rest of the way.
The Beavers led by as many as eight in the first quarter and made the Pioneers look confused with their zone defense. They had trouble getting Diop the ball, which limited his effectiveness. But University began to chip away even though Diop only had seven at halftime on 4 of 7 shooting.
“They figured out our defense as we were going along,” Ahrns said.
Beavercreek may have figured out a few things too. The Beavers shot 46% from 3-point range, only turned the ball over 10 times and had 19 points off turnovers against a top 10 team from Illinois. Jarred Waters made a pair of 3-pointers and finished with nine points while Zach Rower battled inside for eight points and eight rebounds.
“We can play with anybody,” Moore said. “We’re a good defensive team. This game will make us more battle tested.”
And outscoring a player going to play Big Ten basketball?
“He’d probably kill me in one-on-one,” Moore said with a grin.