Joe Petrosino | Staff Reporter
On Tuesday night, on the campus at the University of Cincinnati, men’s basketball head Ccoach Mick Cronin and the Bearcats hosted the Eagles of North Carolina Central University.
Both teams were coming off tough season openers: the Eagles losing 71-51 to Clemson and the Bearcats playing host the Buckeyes who, despite a late run by UC, held on to win by eight.
UC came into this game wanting to get their first win at the newly-renovated Fifth Third Arena.
Like any other Mick Cronin Bearcats team, they wanted to, as Cronin said, “set the tone”starting on the defensive end.
That was one reason why sophomore guard Keith Williams got the start Tuesday tonight.
Williams filled the stat sheet with a team-high 15 points and three blocked shots, to go along with two steals, three assists, and four rebounds, three of which were offensive.
The Bearcats started the first half off with a lot of pressure, picking up the Eagles in the full court.
That proved successful, picking up end-to-end, forcing turnovers, contested shots, and using those to start the fast break.
The Eagles defense settled into a 2-3 zone early, attempting to take away the Bearcats ability to get in the paint and get easy scores at the rim.
UC went just 1-7 from three in the first half and the Eagles kept it close in the early going.
Despite the pesky Eagles, UC’s talent began to prevail.
With penetration by Williams, Jenifer and Cumberland, they were able to create good shots for each other by getting into the teeth of that zone ending the half leading 34-19.
The second half started with Cumberland, Williams and Jenifer all hitting shots, helping the team get out to their largest lead at 29 points.
From there, the Bearcats withstood several attempts to get back in the game with Eagles junior guard Randy Miller Jr. hitting multiple three-pointers and a game-high 21 points. The Bearcats rode their depth all the way to the second unit, led by sophomore forward/center Eliel Newsome and freshman guard Logan Johnson.
The Bearcats have game two of the Emerald Coast Classic coming up next Monday.
Western Michigan will be at Fifth-Third Arena, then the Bearcats will travel to Nieceville, Florida where they will play the final two games, taking on George Mason on Friday Nov. 23 at 7 p.m. on CBS Sports Network, and Baylor or Ole Miss on Saturday Nov. 24.