AKRON, Ohio– Led by a 20 points performance from redshirt freshman forward Ben Vander Plas, the Ohio men's basketball team (13-15, 5-11 MAC) downed Akron (15-14, 7-9 MAC), 73-49, Saturday afternoon (March 2), inside James A. Rhodes Arena.
"It felt really good," fifth-year head coach Saul Phillips said. "It also felt good to do it in a pretty convincing fashion where we took control early and stayed in control of it. I can't say I'm shocked just by the fact that I've seen good things the last three or four times out. I see us keep building and I see us having a lot of potential to do some neat things."
Vander Plas (Ripon, Wis.) finished with 20 points, going 7-of-13 from the field and a career-best 6-of-10 from three-point range. He also grabbed five rebounds, dished out three assists and has one block and three steals. Senior forward Doug Taylor (Columbus, Ohio) finished with 14 points, going 3-of-3 from the field and 8-of-9 from the free throw line, while grabbing seven rebounds. Sophomore guard Teyvion Kirk (Joliet, Ill.) finished with 11 points and three assists, while freshman guard Jason Preston (Orlando, Fla.) finished with nine rebounds and five assists.
"I think we've done a great job at coming into practice every day and working hard and knowing what we have to do, "Vander Plas said. "And now we're having that translate into the game and got into an offensive rhythm. It's just something we just need to keep rolling.
The Zips would win the tip, but the Bobcats would get the first basket of the game, a jumper from redshirt sophomore forward Jason Carter (Johnstown, Ohio). After Akron would tie it up, a layup from Kirk would put the Bobcats ahead again with a layup. The Bobcats would then go on a 6-0 run, taking a 10-2 lead before an Akron layup would stop the run. The Zips would cut the lead to three, but back-to-back threes from Kirk and Block would put the Bobcats back up 16-7 with 12:13 left.
After an Akron three, a layup from Preston and free throws from Taylor would put Ohio back up 10 with under 10 minutes to go. After trading baskets, a dunk and free throws from Taylor would give the Bobcats a 24-12 lead. Vander Plas would then go on a run, hitting his first three of the game with 5:23 left before hitting another one a minute later to give the Bobcats a 17-point lead with 4:38 left in the half.
After back-to-back layups from the Zips, a Carter free throw and another Vander Plas three would give Ohio a 34-17 lead. Then less than 30 seconds later, Vander Plas would hit his fourth three in five minutes, putting the Bobcats up 37-17. After Akron would hit two free throws, Carter would get a layup in the paint with 39 seconds left, helping send Ohio to the locker room with a 39-19 lead.
At the half, Ohio shot 46 percent from the field, 46 percent from three-point range and 78 percent from the free throw line, while Akron shot 23 percent from the field, 13 percent from three-point range and 60 percent from the free throw line. The Bobcats out-rebounded the Zips, 21-18, while the Bobcats also dished out 10 assists, had eight steals and two blocks compared to Akron's three assists, three steals and one block. Ohio also forced nine turnovers and scored nine points off of those turnovers.
Akron would get the first points in the second half, however, two free throws from Carter moments later would give Ohio a 41-21 lead. A dunk from Taylor would extend the lead for Ohio, putting Ohio up 22 with 17:37 left. Akron would go on to cut the Bobcat lead to 18, however, Ohio would then go on a 14-2 run that included another Vander Plas three and Taylor dunk, putting Ohio up 58-29 with 10:51 left in the game.
The Bobcats and Akron would trade baskets again, with junior guard Antonio Cowart, Jr. (McComb, Miss.) hitting a three pf his own, putting the Bobcats up 66-35. Akron would cut the Ohio lead to 28 with three minutes to go, however, a layup from redshirt sophomore forward Jarrell Reeves (Murfreesboro, Tenn.), would put Ohio up 73-43 with 2:37 left. Neither team would make much of a run the final two and a half minutes of play, sealing the Bobcats dominate, 73-49 victory.
Overall, Ohio shot 45.6 percent from the field, 37.5 percent from three-point range and 85.7 percent from the free throw line, while Akron shot 29.3 percent from the field, 18.2 percent from three-point range and 57.9 percent from the free throw line. Ohio out-rebounded the Zips, 39-34, while the Bobcats dished out 19 assists, had five blocks and 11 steals compared to Akron's eight assists, one block and five steals. Ohio also forced 14 turnovers, while scoring 16 points off of them.
"This felt great," Taylor said. "It was my first career win here and it feels really good. I've had such bad memories in here, so getting this win in their house is a great feeling."
For Akron, Deng Roak scored 11 points, going 4-of-10 from the field and 3-of-5 from three-point range, while grabbing a team-high eight rebounds. Jimond Ivey and Channel Banks both scored eight points, while Tyler Cheese added seven points and six boards.
Up next, the Bobcats head back to Athens for the final two home games of the regular season starting on Tuesday, March 5 when the Bobcats host #21 Buffalo. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. inside the Convocation Center.