BATH TOWNSHIP — It was possible to pinpoint the exact second when things fell apart for the St. Marys Roughriders on Friday night at Bath.
J.D. Meyer’s late third-quarter exit with four fouls was the fracture point. Without him on the floor, a spirited Western Buckeye League match-up with the Wildcats turned one-sided.
A tied game turned into a double-digit lead for the Wildcats as Meyer sat on the bench and Bath ran away with a 63-51 Western Buckeye League win on Friday night.
The win made it five straight Bath victories over the Roughriders.
“With (Meyer) out of the game, St. Marys didn’t have much size so we had an advantage inside,” Bath head coach Doug Davis said.
St. Marys had all the momentum, going on a 8-3 run to tie the game. Austin James buried a corner trey. Meyer banked in a tough shot, was fouled and completed the three-point play. Then the Rider big man drained a pair of free throws to knot things up at 42-42.
The game then turned with a mere reach-in.
Meyer picked up the ticky-tack foul — his fourth — on the ensuing possession with 1:46 left in the third. Bath then scored four straight points to end the third quarter and added the first five points of the fourth quarter on a Brad Davis three-pointer and a Keaton Sullivan putback basket to go up 51-42.
“J.D. was on the bench, we turned the ball over two or three times and didn’t even get a shot at it and then they hit some shots and that was the ballgame,” St. Marys head coach Dan Hegemier said. “That was the ballgame.”
When Meyer wasn’t in foul difficulty, Bath had no answer. He scored 21 points on 8-of-16 shooting and grabbed eight rebounds to lead the Roughriders, who lost their third straight game and slipped to 4-7, 1-2 in the WBL.
Playing a zone to help protect against foul trouble wasn’t an option against a Bath team that has four strong outside shooters, Hegemier said.
“We played man and we’re going to continue to play man because we can’t afford to let them set and shoot,” Hegemier said.
Nate Heffner, Bath’s lone consistent inside presence on a team otherwise built on perimeter proficiency, scored a game-high 21 points for Bath. His play in the paint early drew three fouls on Meyer in the first half.
“We wanted to go inside to see how they’d defend us, just to see if they’d double Heffner,” Davis said. “And then when Meyer got in foul trouble, we definitely wanted to keep going in there.”
While Heffner played well in the paint, it was Cole Chambers’ efficient 17-point night that came as a surprise to Hegemier.
“Bath is an outstanding perimeter shooting team,” Hegemier said. “Heffner does a nice job inside, but we didn’t expect Chambers to kill us with 17 points. He did. That’s just a sign of a good team.”
Chambers buried six of the seven shots he took to improve upon his already sparkling 64 percent shooting from the field this season.
“We weren’t shooting it as well as we have, but Cole was making his shots,” Davis said. “That was big.”
It’s a sort of perimeter depth that Bath head coach Doug Davis prides this year’s team on.
“We have four guys who shoot the three well and this was the night where the ball found (Chambers),” Davis said.
Chambers missed a couple of games earlier this season with an injury, but he entered the night 21-of-33 from the floor and 5-of-10 from three-point range. He only improved on those numbers with a sharpshooting show on a night leading scorer Brad Davis wasn’t on his game.
Davis scored 13 points, but he shot just 4-of-12 from the field. He went just 3-of-10 from three-point range, missing shot after shot from long distance in the left corner before heating up late in the third quarter as the Wildcats made their move.
St. Marys put up one of its best shooting nights of the season, hitting on more than 60 percent of its shots from two-point range. The Riders led 11-8 after one quarter and trailed 26-24 at the half.
St. Marys hosts Lima Perry tonight at 6 p.m.