Box Score (PDF)
YPSILANTI, Mich. -- A three-game losing skid punctuated by a 34-point home defeat left the Ohio men's basketball team (9-9, 2-4 MAC) desperate for a win.
Junior guard Jordan Dartis (Newark, Ohio) provided the needed spark to ignite the Bobcats to that victory.
Dartis matched his career high by draining seven-three pointers en route to a game-high 24 points to help power Ohio to a 72-66 triumph over Mid-American Conference West Division foe Eastern Michigan (11-8, 2-4 MAC) at the Convocation Center.
The Bobcats' victory marked Ohio's first true road win of the 2017-18 campaign. Ohio picked up a win in Ypsilanti for the second year in a row.
"I could just tell by looking at everybody's face and seeing the smiles," said Dartis of the win. "I could just see that burden lift. Alright, we got that one under our belt. As a group, it's time to attack the rest of the schedule."
Ohio overcame a 31-24 halftime deficit by outscoring the Eagles by a 48-35 count over the final 20 minutes of play. The Bobcats won for the third time in 2017-18 after trailing at the half. Ohio shot 63 percent (17-of-27) -- including 66.7 percent (8-of-12) from beyond the arc -- in the second half after converting at just a 30 percent (6-of-20) clip from the floor in the first half.
"We had a lot of guys make teammates better tonight. That was a key," said fourth-year head coach Saul Phillips. "That has to be that way with this group."
Dartis went 8-of-12 from the field -- including 7-of-10 from three-point range. He piled up 21 points in the second half, draining six treys. He recorded his fourth 20-point outing of the season and 10th of his Ohio career. Dartis also finished the contest with two rebounds, two assists and two steals in 33 minutes.
Senior guard Mike Laster (Detroit, Mich.) scored 16 points, shooting 6-of-12 from the field with a pair of triples. He also added three rebounds and a block over 32 minutes. Freshman guard Teyvion Kirk (Joliet, Ill.) finished with 12 points thanks in large part to an 8-of-8 effort from the free throw line. He has now finished in double figures in points a team-high 16 times this year. Kirk also dished out three assists, hauled in three boards and matched his career high with four steals in 30 minutes. Junior forward Doug Taylor (Columbus, Ohio) went 4-of-4 from the floor to total eight points. He also grabbed two rebounds, blocked a game-high three shots and had an assist in 20 minutes. Junior guard/forward Gavin Block (Lincoln, Ill.) notched six points, five rebounds, a game-high eight assists and a steal over 38 minutes. Graduate forward Kevin Mickle (Brooklyn, N.Y.) scored four points, posted a team-high seven rebounds and also logged two assists and a steal in 19 minutes of work off of the bench.
"We came together as a group, especially during halftime," said Laster. "We had to make some critical adjustments within the game so we could basically chop up their zone."
Eastern Michigan jumped out to a game-high eight point lead at 16-8 with 11:21 left in the first half, taking advantage of dunks by junior forward/center James Thompson IV, senior guard Tim Bond and redshirt junior forward Elijah Minnie and a pair of three-pointers by redshirt freshman forward Ty Groce. Ohio battled back, though, going on a 12-1 run to take a 20-17 lead with just over seven minutes remaining. A triple by Dartis, a pair of free throws by freshman forward A.J. Gareri (Akron, Ohio) and four made freebies by Kirk powered the Bobcats' rally. The Eagles closed out the half on a 14-4 run to take a seven-point lead into the break, however, as Thompson IV scored eight points over the final 6:24, with six of them coming from the free throw line. Thompson IV led all scorers at the half with 13 points.
Dartis drained a three nine seconds into the second half, and it was a sign of things to come as Ohio flipped the script. The Bobcats opened the second half on a 28-13 run over the first eight minutes, with Dartis drilling four three-pointers and making a layup, Laster knocking down a trey and Kirk sinking four free throws and making a layup to give Ohio a 52-44 advantage. A tip-in basket and a dunk by Thompson IV and three by Groce allowed Eastern Michigan to shave Ohio's lead back down to two at 54-52 with just over nine minutes to play. That's as close as the Bobcats let the Eagles get, though, as Ohio retaliated with a 15-6 run to take a game-high 11-point lead at 69-58 with just over three minutes remaining. Dartis drilled two more threes, Laster sank another and added a layup and Taylor hit a jumper to expand the Bobcats' lead to double digits. Eastern Michigan made it a four-point game with 1:32 to go after Bond hit a three, Groce made a layup and Thompson IV tipped in a bucket to cut Ohio's lead to 69-65. The Eagles provided the Bobcats with a break on Ohio's next possession, though, as Kirk scored a layup on a goaltend by Thompson IV to make it a six-point lead for the visitors. After freshman guard Malik Ellison drew a foul and made the second of his two free throw attempts to cut Eastern Michigan's deficit to five with 32 seconds to play, freshman guard Zach Butler (Spartanburg, S.C.) missed the front end of a one-and-one opportunity. He redeemed himself on the defensive end on the next possession, though, blocking a layup by redshirt junior guard Paul Jackson with 25 seconds left to essentially seal the deal for the Bobcats.
"Huge," said Dartis of Butler's block. "I understand he smoked the free throws, but that happens. He didn't give up on the play. The dude went by him and he just pinned it on the glass. He got the stop. That's just a big play from a freshman down the stretch."
Thompson IV led Eastern Michigan with a double-double performance, going 7-of-7 from the field and 7-of-9 from the free throw line to score a team-high 21 points to go along with a game-high 14 rebounds in 39 minutes. Groce went 5-of-8 from the field -- including 4-of-5 from three-point range -- to finish with 15 points. He also logged four rebounds, two assists, two blocks and a steal over 35 minutes. Jackson finished with 12 points, a team-high three assists and tallied a steal in 34 minutes of work. Bond scored 11 points in 29 minutes off of the bench, going 5-of-6 from the field. He also recorded three rebounds, two assists, a block and a steal.
Ohio will look to make it two wins in a row when it heads to the Rubber City to square off with MAC East Division rival Akron (9-9, 2-4 MAC) next Tuesday (Jan. 23) in a 7 p.m. showdown at James A. Rhodes Arena. The game will be streamed live on WatchESPN and the ESPN app.