ATHENS, Ohio – With five Bobcats recording double figures, the Ohio men's basketball team (6-3) returned to action Wednesday night (Dec. 4), defeating Rio Grande (6-5), 90-51, inside the Convocation Center.
"We wanted to come out and set the tone for the game," head coach Jeff Boals said. "We were up one going into the first timeout and the second four minutes we came out and out intensity was much better. I think we ended up with nine kills in the game, which for us is three stops in a row. Anytime that happens you are winning the game. I thought our defensive intensity was really good for the most part."
Leading the way was redshirt sophomore forward Ben Vander Plas (Ripon, Wis.) who scored 14 points, going 7-of-9 from the field and grabbing two rebounds in 21 minutes, followed by graduate transfer forward Sylvester Ogbonda (Port Harcourt, Nigeria), who also finished with 14 points, going 6-of-7 from the field, 1-for-1 from three-point range, while also grabbing a team-high eight rebounds. Freshman forward Marvin Price (Baltimore, Md.) also finished with 14 points, going 4-of-6 from the field, 2-of-2 from three-point range and five rebounds. Sophomore Jason Preston (Orlando, Fla.) finished with 11 points and 13 assists, while redshirt freshman Mason McMurray (Stow, Ohio) finished with 12 points and seven rebounds.
Overall, Ohio shot 58.7 percent from the field, 38.1 percent from three-point range and 72.7 percent from the free throw line, while Rio Grande shot 35.0 percent from the field, 23.1 percent from three-point range and 60 percent from the free throw line. Ohio outrebounded Rio Grande, 38-28, while the Bobcats dished out 23 assists compared to Rio Grande's six. Ohio also scored 50 points in the paint and 25 points off of turnovers.
Ohio opened the game with the first points on a layup from Vander Plas. After the Bobcats and RedStorm traded baskets, a layup and a free throw from freshman guard Lunden McDay (Akron, Ohio) started a 14-4 run for the Bobcats that gave them a 19-8 lead going into the under-12 media timeout. Out of the timeout, another three-point play from McDay helped spark another Bobcat run, this one an 11-0 run that put Ohio up 20 going into the next media timeout.
Ohio extended its lead to 24 after a layup from Price. After four –straight points from the RedStorm, another Price layup, followed by back-to-back and a three from McMurray, extended the Bobcats' lead to 27 with 2:40 left in the first half.
After a layup from Ogbonda, Rio Grande hit a three, however, a layup from Preston and a three at the buzzer from McMurray sent the Bobcats to the locker room with a 51-20 lead.
At the half, Ohio shot 66 percent from the field, 40 percent from three-point range and 71 percent from the free throw line, while Rio Grande shot 29 percent from the field, 18 percent from three-point range and 50 percent from the free throw line. Ohio outrebounded the RedStorm 20-11, while Ohio recorded 10 fastbreak points and 32 points in the paint. The Bobcats also forced nine turnovers and scored 15 points off of them, while the Bobcats only turned the ball over four times in the first half. Ohio also recorded 13 assists to the RedStorm's one.
Leading the Bobcats at the half was Vander Plas with 10 points, going 5-of-7 from the field, while Preston registered nine points, going 4-of-4 from the field, 1-of-1 from three-point range, while dishing out eight assists. Price finished the half with eight points, while Ogbonda finished with five points and six rebounds.
Ohio and the RedStorm traded baskets to open the second half, however, back-to-back dunks from Vander Plas and layups from Ogbonda and Preston, put the Bobcats up 61-28 with going into the first media timeout. A three from freshman center Nolan Foster (Mattawan, Mich.) out of the timeout gave the Bobcats a 34-point lead before the RedStorm cut the lead to 29. However, Ogbonda drained a three of his own and then recorded a dunk to give Ohio a 71-39 lead with 11:42 left in the game.
After a three from freshman guard Michael Brown, Jr. (Rochester, N.Y.), Price drained another three, giving Ohio a 40-point lead with 9:12 to go. Out of the timeout, five-straight points from the Bobcats gave them a, 86-46 lead entering the final media timeout. The RedStorm and Bobcats traded baskets out of the final media timeout, with the Bobcats securing the 90-51 victory.
Up next, Ohio returns to Athens on Sunday, Dec. 8 when the Bobcats host Tennessee Tech. Tip-off is set for 2 p.m. inside the Convocation Center.