ATHENS, Ohio – Led by a 26-point performance by redshirt senior guard Jordan Dartis, the Ohio men's basketball team (9-6, 1-1 MAC) helped secure first year head coach Jeff Boals' first Mid-American Conference win, defeating Eastern Michigan (10-5, 0-2 MAC), 74-68, Tuesday night inside the Convocation Center. With his performance, Dartis also passed DJ Cooper to move into second all-time in Ohio history in career made three-pointers.
"If he plays against Campbell, we probably win the game," Boals said about Dartis. "He did it against Middle Tennessee State and Detroit Mercy. When teams play zone, he's going to find the open area. More importantly, the other guys are going to find him. They were in the huddle talking about feeding him the ball. We continued to do that and we trust him. He's in elite shooter and when you go 8-of-15, the game is a lot smoother."
Dartis (Newark, Ohio) finished the game with 26 points, going 9-of-19 from the field, 8-of-15 from three-point range, while grabbing four rebounds and dishing out two assists. Freshman guard Lunden McDay (Akron, Ohio) finished with 13 points, going 4-of-7 from the field and 3-of-4 from three-point range, while sophomore guard Jason Preston (Orlando, Fla.) finished with 13 points and six assists. Redshirt sophomore forward Ben Vander Plas (Ripon, Wis.) finished the game with 10 points, seven rebounds and six assists, while freshman center Nolan Foster (Mattawan, Mich.) finished with 10 points and redshirt junior forward Connor Murrell (Sioux City, Iowa) finished with a career-high eight rebounds.
���� @jordy_dartis35 hit 8⃣ threes and scored 26 points, while @lundenm15 hit the three to seal the 74-68 victory for the Bobcats over EMU. Check out the highlights here! #BleedGreen pic.twitter.com/quibmuMLDH— Ohio Men's Basketball (@OhioMBasketball) January 8, 2020
Overall, Ohio shot 46 percent from the field, 48 percent from three-point range and 53 percent from the free throw line, while Eastern Michigan finished the game shooting 44 percent from the field, 38 percent from three-point range and 77 percent from the free throw line. Ohio out-rebounded the Eagles, 35-33, while the Bobcats forced 22 turnovers and scored 21 points off of them. Ohio also dished out 19 assists to EMU's 12.
"Hitting shots is the key to beating the zone," Dartis said. "Whenever I got free, I was looking to knock shots down. However, the other guys did a good job of playing good basketball today. It wasn't just me, Preston was making plays and Vander Plas was making plays. Great team effort today."
Eastern Michigan opened the game with the first three of the game, however McDay followed it up immediately with a three of his own. The Bobcats and EMU traded baskets over the next few minutes, which included three more three pointers from Dartis, giving Ohio a 12-11 lead going into the first media timeout. Out of the timeout, EMU went on a 9-2 run before a layup from Foster stopped the run. However, another EMU jumper gave the Eagles a 22-16 lead entering the next media timeout.
After a layup from Vander Plas cut the lead to four, EMU went up seven after draining a three. However, a three from Vander Plas sparked an 11-0 run for the Bobcats that included more three pointers from McDay and Dartis give the Bobcats a four-point lead. However, the Eagles hit two free throws, cutting the Ohio lead to 29-27 going into the final media timeout of the half.
Out of the timeout, Foster hit a jumper followed by a layup from McDay and another jumper from Foster that put the Bobcats up eight with 56 seconds to go. After the Eagles hit two free throws, Foster hit another jumper at the buzzer, giving the Bobcats a 37-29 lead at the half.
At the half, the Bobcats shot 50 percent from the field, 50 percent from three-point range and were 2-of-4 from the free throw line, while EMU shot 48 percent from the field, 50 percent from three-point range and were 4 of-7 from the free throw line. The Bobcats out-rebounded the Eagles, 15-14, while Ohio forced 10 turnovers and scored 13 points off of them. The Bobcats also dished out 12 first-half assists to EMU's five.
Individually, Dartis led Ohio with 12 points at the half, followed by Foster with 10 and McDay with nine.
EMU opened the second half on an 8-0 run to tie the game at 37-37, forcing the Bobcats to call a timeout with 17:41 left in the game. Out of the Bobcats' timeout, Preston stopped the run with a jumper, giving Ohio a two-point lead going into the under-16 timeout.
Out of the timeout, the Bobcats and Dartis caught fire. After a Preston jumper, Dartis hit three-straight threes before another layup from Murrell. With the Bobcats leading by six at that points, Dartis then drained his eighth three of the game to give Ohio a 53-44 lead going into the media timeout. Out of the timeout, a jumper from Dartis and a three from Preston gave the Bobcats a 14-point lead – their largest of the night. Ohio and EMU then traded baskets, with EMU cutting the Ohio lead to 10 going into the next media timeout.
Out of the timeout, Ohio and EMU continued to trade baskets, with the Eagles getting to the line and hitting four free throws before a dunk from Vander Plas gave Ohio a nine-point lead. However, EMU hit a corner three to cut the Ohio lead to 65-59 with 2:58 left.
After a free throw by McDay put the Bobcats up seven, the Eagles were able to cut the Ohio lead to three with 1:16 left. However, McDay sealed the game with a corner three with 44 seconds left to secure the Bobcats' 74-68 victory.
"I was just open," McDay said. "I knew Ben (Vander Plas) saw me and I just shot it and I knew it was going to be good.
The Bobcats are back in action on Saturday, Jan. 11 when the Bobcats take on Bowling Green in Athens. Tip-off is set for 1 p.m. inside the Convocation Center.