ATHENS, Ohio -- Behind a game-high 17 points from sophomore guard Teyvion Kirk (Joliet, Ill.) and redshirt sophomore forward Jason Carter (Johnstown, Ohio), the Ohio men's basketball team (1-0) defeated Wilberforce (3-3), 97-61, in the 2018-19 regular season opener on Wednesday (Nov. 7) at the Convocation Center. The Bobcats have now won 15 consecutive season openers.
"I thought we moved the ball extremely well at times tonight," said fifth-year head coach Saul Phillips, "We were playing off each other. I thought at times our defense generated offense for us. All those are positives, but reemphasized it's going to get a little choppier water here so we need to continue to grow."
Carter finished with a double-double on 17 points and a game-high 13 rebounds in 21 minutes. Redshirt freshman forward Ben Vander Plas (Ripon, WIs.) went 6-of-8 from the field to finish with 16 points and added eight rebounds and two assists in 18 minutes. Freshman guard Jason Preston (Orlando, Fla.) went 5-of-8 from the field for 10 points and chipped in five rebounds, two assists and a game-high three steals in 25 minutes for his Bobcat debut. Senior forward Doug Taylor (Columbus, Ohio) added 11 rebounds and a game-high four blocks alongside six points in 23 minutes of work.
"It feels good to be back out there and actually playing," Carter said. "Sitting out it's hard. Feels good to finally be out playing in front of our fans."
As a defensive unit, Ohio held Wilberforce scoreless through the first five minutes of regulation and held the Bulldogs to a 14.3 percent (2-14) field goal percentage with zero points scored in the paint as midway through the first half approached.
Ohio, ahead 27-15 three quarters of the way through the first half, dominated the glass compiling 20 rebounds, seven of which were offensive boards, compared to nine rebounds, two of which were offensive boards, for the Bulldogs while also compiling four blocked shots compared to zero for Wilberforce. Ohio forced four Bulldog turnovers capitalizing on all four to go on a 12-2 run to close out the first half ahead, 48-29.
At the end of the first half, Ohio held Wilberforce to a 33.3 percent (11-of-33) field goal percentage and four assists as they registered a 50 percent (19-38) field goal percentage and tallied 11 assists. As a team the Bobcats compiled 28 total rebounds nearly doubling the Bulldogs 15 total rebounds. Ohio was able to attempt 12 free throws capitalizing on eight while Wilberforce only attempted four free throws capitalizing on three. Nearly tripling Wilberforce, Ohio scored 34 points in the paint compared to 12 for the Bulldogs.
Vander Plas led the way for Ohio's offense in the second half, going 6-of-7 from the field with a pair of triples for 16 points as Ohio outscored Wilberforce 49-32. He also grabbed seven of the 26 total Ohio rebounds that more than doubled the Bulldogs' 10 total rebounds for the half.
Ohio finished the game with a 49 percent (39-of-80) field goal percentage and 56 total rebounds compared to Wilberforce who finished the game with a 40 percent (25-of-62) field goal percentage and 25 total rebounds. Ohio registered 21 total assists to Wilberforce's 10 and scored 66 points in the paint compared to 30 points in the paint for the Bulldogs.
"I am really looking forward to what comes next, because I think our guys can really do some things," said Phillips.
Terence Gholston tallied 15 points over 18 minutes to lead Wilberforce in scoring and led the team with seven rebounds. Malik Timmons and Jabril Hunter both added 10 points for Wilberforce. Timmons chipped in a team-high three assists in 23 minutes while Hunter chipped in two rebounds and an assist in 20 minutes for the Bulldogs.
The Bobcats return to action on Monday, Nov. 12 as the Bobcats take on Campbell in Athens in the first game of the Jersey Mike's Jamaica Classic. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. inside the Convocation Center and can be seen on ESPN3.