KENT, Ohio – Despite sophomore guard Jason Preston flirting with his second triple-double of the season, the Ohio men's basketball team (12-13, 4-8 MAC) could not overcome 17 made threes from Kent State (17-8, 7-5 MAC), falling to the Golden Flashes, 87-72, Saturday afternoon inside the M.A.C. Center.
"There wasn't the disruption that we've had," first year head coach Jeff Boals said. "I think we got away from that disruption. Some of it was them and some of it was us. And when you start hitting shots continually, that helps your confidence. They're one of the most talented teams in the league and the fact that they have five loses is surprising. They have seniors and juniors and had lost two in a row and then had eight days off. It was almost a perfect storm. And then we didn't do the things that we needed to do to beat a good team on the road
Leading Ohio was Preston (Orlando, Fla.) who finished the game with 20 points, going 7-of-11 from the field and 2-of-4 from three-point range. Preston also dished out 12 assists and grabbed eight boards. Redshirt sophomore forward Ben Vander Plas (Ripon, Wis.) finished with 12 points, five rebounds and four assists, while freshman guard Lunden McDay (Akron, Ohio) finished with 14 points, while going 5-of-7 from the field. Graduate transfer forward Sylvester Ogbonda (Port Harcourt, Nigeria) finished with 13 points and seven rebounds.
Overall, Ohio shot 48.2 percent from the field, 34.8 percent from three-point range and 58.8 percent from the line, while Kent State shot 53.1 percent from the field, 54.8 percent from three-point range and 81.8 percent from the free throw line.
Kent State got on the board first with a three before the Bobcats tied it up moments later with a three from redshirt senior guard Jorday Dartis (Newark, Ohio). After Kent State hit back-to-back threes to take a 9-3 lead, a three from Vander Plas and a layup from Ogbonda cut the Kent Stat lead to 11-8 before another three from Dartis tied the game at 11-11 going into the first media timeout. Out of the timeout, Kent State took a one-point lead before a dunk from Vander Plas put the Bobcats up 13-12. Kent State then went on a 5-0 run before layups from redshirt junior guard Connor Murrell (Sioux City, Iowa) and Preston cut the Kent State lead to 18-17 going into the next media timeout.
Out of the timeout, Preston hit a jumper and a free throw to give the Bobcats a 20-18 lead with 10:46 left in the half. After Kent State tied the game at 20-20, another Vander Plas layup put Ohio up 22-20. However, Kent State went on a 6-0 run to take a 26-22 leaf going into the under-eight media timeout.
Out of the timeout, Ohio cut the Kent State lead to one with 6:10 left, before another Kent State three put the Golden Flashes up 29-25. After a flagrant one was assessed against a Kent State player, Ogbonda hit both free throws and Preston drained a three to but Ohio up 30-29 with 4:51 left in the half. Back-to-back Kent State threes put the Flashes up 36-30 before a Dartis layup and a three from freshman forward Ben Roderick (Powell, Ohio) cut the Kent State lead to 39-35 with 2:18 left in the half.
Out of the media timeout, another Preston three cut the Kent State lead to one, before a dunk and a free throw from Kent State gave the Golden Flashes a 42-38 lead going into the half.
At the half, Ohio shot 50 percent from the field, 40 percent from three-point range and 50 percent from the free throw line, while Kent State shot 53.8 percent from the field, 58.8 percent from three-point range and was also 50 percent from the free throw line. Ohio out rebounded Kent State, 17-14, while the Bobcats dished out 11 assists to Kent State's seven.
At the half, Preston led the way with 14 points, three rebounds and six assists, while Dartis registered eight points and Vander Plas added seven points and five boards.
The Bobcats opened the second half on a 6-0 run that was capped by a McDay three to take a 44-42 lead. Kent State then hit six-straight free throws to take a 48-44 lead, before a layup from Vander Plas cut the Flashes lead to 48-46 going into the first media timeout.
Out of the media timeout, Kent State hit back-to-back threes, forcing an Ohio timeout. Out of the timeout, back-to-back layups from Preston and McDay cut the Kent State lead to four, however, The Golden Flashes then went on a 10-0 run to take a 64-50 lead, forcing another Ohio timeout with 11:26 to go in the game.
Out of the timeout, a layup from McDay and Preston stopped the Kent State run. However, Kent State then went on an 8-0 run to take a 73-54 lead. After McDay hit two free throws and Ogbonda three down a dunk, the Bobcats went into the final media timeout trailing, 75-58.
Out of the timeout, a layup from Ogbonda and a layup from Vander Plas cut the Golden Flashes lead to 78-62, however, another three from Kent State stopped the Ohio run before McDay drained another three to cut the Ohio deficit to 81-67. However, the Bobcats were unable to string together another run over the final few minutes, falling to Kent State, 87-72.
Up next, the Bobcats are back in Athens on Tuesday, Feb. 18 when Ohio hosts Central Michigan. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. inside the Convocation Center.