ATHENS, Ohio – Sophomore guard Jason Preston recorded his sixth double double of the season when the Ohio men's basketball team (12-12, 4-7 MAC) defeated Western Michigan (11-13, 4-7 MAC) on Tuesday night (Feb. 11) in the Convocation Center.
"I thought our guys played with great intensity and a great effort level," first year head coach Jeff Boals said. "We were the aggressor and I think that's why we won. To start the game, shots weren't falling and so you have to defend and rebound. I thought our ball pressure was phenomenal. I thought our press killed the clock, and I thought our post double teams took them out of what they did in game one. Big key coming in was not fouling them and putting them on the line. That's a huge part of their offense. I thought our guys carried the game plan out perfectly."
Individually, Preston (Orlando, Fla.) shot 9-of-17 from the field and 2-of-3 from behind the free throw line. Preston recorded 21 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists in his 38 minutes of play. Redshirt sophomore forward Ben Vander Plas (Ripon, Wis.) shot 8-of-18 from the from the field with 19 points, nine boards and one assist in his 36 minutes of play. Redshirt senior guard Jordan Dartis (Newark, Ohio) had 15 points, shot 3-of-5 from behind the arc and shot 6-of-6 from the free throw line.
Freshman forward Ben Roderick (Powell, Ohio) shot 3-of-3 from the free throw line, grabbed three rebounds and finished with eight points, while graduate transfer forward Sylvester Ogbonda (Port Harcourt, Nigeria) pulled in three rebounds alongside his four points.
Overall, Ohio shot 42.4 percent from the field, 23.8 from the three-point range and 75 percent from the free throw line, while WMU shot 40.7 percent from the field, 44.4 percent from the three point range and 81.8 from the free throw line. The Broncos out-rebounded the Bobcats, 38-35, while Ohio dished out 12 assists to WMU's seven.
Western Michigan recorded the first four points of the game before back-to-back layups from Ogbonda and Preston tied the game at 4-4 going into the first media timeout. Out of the timeout, WMU went on a 5-0 run to take a 9-4 lead before Roderick drained a three to cut the WMU lead to 9-7 going into the second media timeout. After the Broncos went up 12-7 with 9:18 left in the half, a layup from freshman guard Miles Brown (Rochester, N.Y.) cut the Bobcats' deficit to 12-9. WMU then went on a 4-0 run to take a 16-9 lead, before back-to-back threes from Dartis and a layup from Preston quickly sprung Ohio to a 17-16 lead with 6:39 left in the half.
Out of the media timeout, WMU went back up one before back-to-back layups from Vander Plas put the Bobcats up three with 4:46 to go. After WMU tied the game with a three, four more points from Vander Plas gave the Bobcats a 25-21 lead with 3:40 left in the half. Out of the media timeout, WMU cut the Ohio lead to one before a put-back layup from Vander Plas gave Ohio a 27-24 lead with 1:23 left in the half. After WMU cut the Ohio lead to 27-27, redshirt junior guard Connor Murrell (Sioux, City, Iowa) hit two free throws before Preston hit a layup with seconds to go in the half to give the Bobcats a 31-26 lead going into halftime.
At the half, Ohio shot 41 percent from the field, 27 percent from three-point range and 40 percent from the free throw line, while WMU shot 41 percent from the field, 50 percent from three-point range and 80 percent from the free throw line. WMU out-rebounded the Bobcats, 21-15, while the Bobcats forced 12 WMU turnovers, to the Bobcats' five.
WMU opened the second half with a layup before Vander Plas matched it with one of his own. After a thunderous second chance dunk from Preston to put Ohio up seven, WMU recorded four-straight points to cut the Ohio lead to 35-32 going into the first media timeout.
After Western Michigan tied the game at 35-35, Ohio went on a 7-0 run, with Preston scoring all seven points, to put the Bobcats up, 42-35 with 13:28 remaining. After a layup from the Broncos, a layup from Vander Plas put Ohio back up seven before free throws and a made three cut the Ohio lead to two. However, a layup from Vander Plas in the paint put Ohio back up four going into the under-12 media timeout. Out of the timeout, WMU cut the Ohio lead back to two before a layup and a free throw from Roderick gave Ohio a five-point lead before another layup from WMU cut the Ohio lead to 49-46 with 7:47 left in the game.
Out of the timeout, a three from Dartis and a layup from Ogbonda gave Ohio an eight-point lead. After a layup from Western Michigan cut the lead to six, another Preston layup gave the Bobcats a 56-48 lead. After the Broncos once again cut the Ohio lead to six, a layup from Preston put the Bobcats up 58-50 going into the final media timeout.
Out of the media timeout, Ohio had five consecutive points from behind the free throw line from Roderick, Vander Plas and Dartis to extend the lead. WMU followed with a three-point basket, but Ohio made four consecutive free throws to maintain the lead. After a repetition of shots from the free throw line for Ohio, WMU had the last shot of the game, but could not overcome Ohio, with the Bobcats walking away victorious, 73-61.
Up next, Ohio heads to Kent, Ohio on Saturday, Feb. 15 to take on Kent State. Tip-off is set for 1 p.m. inside the M.A.C. Center.