ATHENS, Ohio – Despite a 27-point performance by sophomore guard Jason Preston, the Ohio men's basketball team (10-9, 2-4 MAC) was unable to overcome a Toledo team (11-8, 3-3 MAC) that shot 64 percent in the second half, falling to the Rockets, 83-74, Tuesday evening inside the Convocation Center.
"First of all, I thought it was a great crowd," first-year head coach Jeff Boals said. "Students were phenomenal and when the ban is there, it's a great atmosphere. Credit to all those people coming out. I think if you look at the game, I'd probably say we missed 15 shots in the paint that we should have made. When you play a team like this, they want to try and outscore you and you can't afford to miss those easy ones. Jordan Dartis, when he's on, we're pretty good. But when he's missing, I thought a couple of times he was hesitant. I told him that I didn't care if he missed 20 shots, but to shoot those shots because we need them. I thought the first half foul trouble with Ben Vander Plas changed things from an offensive stand point. We rely on him inside-out."
Overall, Ohio shot 39 percent from the field – including shooting 51.4 percent in the second half, 31 percent from three-point range and 71 percent from the free throw line, while Toledo shot 48 percent from the field – 64.3 percent in the second half, 40 percent from three-point range and 85 percent from the free throw line. Ohio out rebounded Toledo, 40-39, and dished out 14 assists to Toledo's 13.
Preston (Orlando, Fla.) finished the game with a career-tying 27 points, going 11-of-21 from the field, 1-of-3 from three-point range and 4-of-5 from the free throw line. Preston also finished the game with seven rebounds and eight assists. Freshman forward Ben Roderick (Powell, Ohio) finished the game with a career-high 11 points, going 4-of-8 from the field and 3-of-5 from three-point range. Despite foul trouble early in the first half, redshirt sophomore forward Ben Vander Plas (Ripon, Wis.) finished the game with nine points and four rebounds, while redshirt senior guard Jordan Dartis (Newark, Ohio) finished with eight points and graduate transfer Sylvester Ogbonda (Port Harcourt, Nigeria) finished with a team-leading 11 boards.
For Toledo, Marreon Jackson finished with 29 points, going 5-of-9 from three-point range, while Luke Knapke finished with 22 points. Willie Jackson finished with a game-high 14 rebounds.
The Rockets opened the game with the first basket before Dartis gave the Bobcats a 3-2 lead with 18:35 left in the half. Toledo then hit back-to-back threes to take am 8-3 lead going into the first media timeout. Out of the timeout, the Rockets went up eight, before three free throws from Dartis cut the lead to five. After the Rockets extended the lead to 10 points, a three from Roderick cut the lead to seven. However, a Toledo jumper put the rockets up nine going into the next media timeout.
After Toledo took another 10-point lead, Ohio went on an 8-0 run that was sparked by two Preston jumpers, a layup from freshman guard Miles Brown (Rochester, N.Y.) and a Roderick layup to cut the Ohio deficit to tow points going into the under-eight media timeout. Out of the timeout, Toledo went up four after hitting two free throws, However, the Bobcats tied the game at 23-23 after a Preston layup and jumper. After Toledo hit two more free throws, Ohio took their first lead since the opening minute when Roderick drained his second three of the game. However, a Rockets' jumper put Toledo back up one going into the final media timeout of the half.
Out of the timeout, Toledo went up five before layup from freshman center Nolan Foster (Mattawan, Mich.) cut the Rockets' lead to three. However, Toledo then went on a 4-0 run to take a seven-point lead going into halftime.
At the half, Ohio shot 27 percent from the field, 25 percent from three-point range and were 5-of-6 from the free throw line, while Toledo shot 34 percent from the field, 27 percent from three-point range and 1232 10-of-12 from the free throw line. Toledo out-rebounded the Bobcats, 26-24, while both teams dished out five assists.
Leading Ohio individually at the half was Preston and Roderick who both recorded eight points, while Preston added five rebounds and three assists. Dartis added six points, while Ogbonda grabbed six boards.
Ohio opened the game with six-straight points from Vander Plas that cut the Toledo lead to four. After a hookshot from Toledo, w driving layup from Dartis cut the Bobcats deficit to four once again going into the first media timeout of the half. Out of the timeout, Toledo took a seven-point lead until a Preston layup and two free throws cut the lead to six, however a third-straight Rockets' three put Toledo up nine with 13:40 left in the game. However, a free throw by Brown cut the lead to eight before a layup from Toledo gave the Rockets a 10-point lead going into the under-12 media timeout.
After Ohio cut the Toledo lead to nine, the Rockets went on an 11-2 run to take a 64-46 lead with 7:48 left in the game. Seven-straight points from Preston and Brown's first three-pointer of his career brought the Bobcats back within 11 going into the final media timeout.
Out of the timeout, the Bobcats and rockets traded baskets over the next three minutes, with the Bobcats able to cut the deficit to eight points with 51 seconds left. However, the Rockets were able to hit their free throws down the stretch, and despite three made three-pointers from Roderick, Preston and redshirt freshman forward Mason McMurray (Stow, Ohio), the Bobcats would eventually fall by the final of 83-74.
Up next, the Bobcats stay in Athens on Saturday, Jan. 25 when Ohio plays host to Akron. Tip-off is set for 3:30 p.m. inside the Convocation Center and is the second game of a men's and women's basketball doubleheader, with the Ohio women's basketball team set to tip-off at 1 p.m.