DEKALB, Ill. – Despite three Bobcats scoring in double figures, the Ohio men's basketball team (10-11, 2-6 MAC) dropped another tough game on the road, falling to Northern Illinois (12-9, 5-3, 61-59, Tuesday evening inside the NIU Convocation Center.
Redshirt sophomore forward Ben Vander Plas (Ripon, Wis.) finished the game with 18 points, going 7-of-10 from the field, while grabbing eight rebounds. Freshman guard Lunden McDay (Akron, Ohio) finished the game with 13 points, going 4-of-9 from the field and 2-of-2 from the free throw line. Sophomore guard Jason Preston (Orlando, Fla.) finished with 10 points, seven assists and seven rebounds, while redshirt sophomore Jordan Dartis (Newark, Ohio) finished with six points, hit two threes and is now one made three away from tying Nick Kellogg with 290 made threes in his career.
Overall, Ohio shot 39.6 percent from the field, 29.2 percent from three-point range and 55.6 percent from the free throw line, while NIU shot 43.4 percent from the field, 43.8 percent from three-point range and 61.5 percent from the free throw line. NIU out-rebounded the Bobcats, 38-33, while Ohio dished out 10 assists to NIU's nine. Both teams scored 26 points in the paint.
For NIU, Eugene German scored 18 points, while Noah McCarty added 16 and Tyler Cochran scored 12.
Ohio opened the game up with the first points on a three from Dartis. After NIU hit two free throws, layups from Preston and Vander Plas put the Bobcats up five with 17:06 left in the half, After NIU tied the game at nine, a three from McDay put the Bobcats back up three going into the first media timeout. After NIU cut the lead to one, a layup from Preston put the Bobcats back up three. However, a layup and two free throws from the Huskies put NIU up 15-14 going into the next media timeout.
A three from freshman forward Ben Roderick (Powell, Ohio) out of the timeout put the Bobcats back up on top, 17-15. After graduate transfer forward Sylvester Ogbonda (Port Harcourt, Nigeria) hit two free throws, back-to-back layup from the Huskies tied the game at 19-19. However, moments later, Dartis hit his second three of the night to put the Bobcats up three going into the next media timeout.
Ohio and NIU traded baskets out of the timeout before a layup from Preston and a three from McDay gave Ohio a five-point lead with 3:28 left in the half. After NIU cut the Ohio lead to two with a free throw, a three from redshirt freshman forward Nate Springs (Charlotte, N.C.) gave Ohio a 32-27 lead going into halftime.
At the half, Ohio shot 44 percent from the field, 40 percent from three-point range and went 2-of-3 from the free throw line, while NIU shot 33 percent from the field, 25 percent from three-point range and was 5-of-6 from the free throw line. NIU out-rebounded the Bobcats, 19-17, while Ohio dished out nine assists to the Huskies' two.
At the half, Preston scored eight points and dished out six assists, while McDay and Dartis both recorded six points.
NIU opened the second half with a three before a layup from Ogbonda gave Ohio a four-point lead. However, after the layup, NIU went on an 8-0 run to take a 38-34 lead and force Ohio to burn a timeout. After the timeout, McDay stopped the NIU run before a free throw from Vander Plas cut the NIU lead to one. NIU and Ohio then traded baskets before a jumper from Preston cut the NIU lead to 43-41 with 12:58 left in the game.
NIU went on a 7-0 run out of the media timeout before two free throws from freshman center Nolan Foster (Mattawan, Mich.) stopped the run. A three from NIU game the Huskies a 10-point lead, however a McDay three cut the Huskies' lead to seven with 7:07 left in the game. Out of the timeout, five-straight points from Vander Plas helped cut the NIU lead to 55-51 going into the final media timeout.
Out of the timeout, the Bobcats battled with two free throws from McDay and a layup from Vander Plas to tie the game at 55-55. After an NIU free throw gave them a one-point lead, another Vander Plas layup gave Ohio a 57-56 lead. However, a three from NIU put the Huskies up two with 1:11 left.
After Vander Plas was fouled under the basket and hit both free throws to tie the game at 59-59, NIU hit a layup with 18 seconds to go to give the Bobcats the ball back down two. The Bobcats were able to get a shot off as the clock expired, however, Roderick's shot did not fall and the Bobcats dropped another close game, 61-59.
Up next, Ohio heads to Muncie, Ind. to take on Ball State on Saturday, Feb. 1. Tip-off is set for 1 p.m. inside Worthen Arena.