ATHENS, Ohio -- Behind redshirt sophomore forward Jason Carter (Johnstown, Ohio), who registered a game-high 19 points, and a career-high 16 rebounds from senior forward Doug Taylor (Columbus, Ohio), the Ohio men's basketball team (6-3) defeated Radford (6-3), 78-69, on Saturday (Dec. 8) inside the Convocation Center.
"It was a good win over a good team," said fifth-year head coach Saul Phillips, "I'm probably most excited about how we withstood some of their punches they threw at us. It seemed like every time we had a chance to get some traction and pull away, they hit a big shot."
Carter went 7-of-13 from the field as well as 5-of-5 from the free-throw line, while compiling six rebounds and an assist in 31 minutes of play. Following closely behind was sophomore guard Teyvion Kirk (Joliet, Ill.) who compiled 17 points, going 6-of-11 from the field and added six rebounds, three assists, and a team-high two steals in 34 minutes of work for Ohio. Redshirt freshman forward Ben Vander Plas (Ripon, Wis.) compiled 14 points and five rebounds in 18 minutes, while Taylor added seven points, a career-high and game-high 16 rebounds, an assist and a block in 31 minutes for the Bobcats. Freshman guard Jason Preston (Orlando, Fl.) added eight points and two rebounds in 23 minutes of play, while junior guard Antonio Cowart, Jr. (McComb, Miss.) added seven points and three rebounds for Ohio in his 36 minutes on the court. Senior guard/forward Gavin Block (Lincoln, Ill.), added six points and a game-high four assists in 26 minutes for the Bobcats.
"It was a great bounce-back game for us," said Taylor, "We got back up on our feet after a disappointing defeat, it was a good win."
After a two-minute scoring drought opened the game, Kirk, Cowart, Jr., and Carter strung together four baskets for an 8-0 Ohio run after five minutes of play. Through 10 minutes, the Ohio defense held Radford to a 23 percent field goal percentage, going 3-of-13 from the floor, while Ohio's offense registered a 64.3 percent field goal percentage going 9-of-14, resulting in a 20-8 lead for the Bobcats.
Vander Plas converted on a three-point attempt which brought the Ohio lead to 23-8. Radford however began to find a rhythm compiling a 7-0 run that shrunk the Ohio lead to 23-15 as the six-minute mark in the opening half. Radford, hot from outside, outscored Ohio 9-6 to come within three, 29-26, leading to the two-minute mark. Block sank a three-point basket to extend the Bobcat lead to six, 32-26, with under a minute left in the first half. Ohio and Radford both had opportunities to score as the clock ran out, but neither team could convert which kept Ohio ahead 32-26 as they headed to the locker-room.
"We knew how they played, they play hard and downhill all game," said Taylor, "We knew we had to bring as much energy from the jump as possible and when we brought it, it carried over for the whole game."
Ohio registered a 54 percent field goal percentage going 14-of-26 from the field – including 3-of-7 from three-point range, compared to Radford who registered a 31 percent field goal percentage going 10-of-32 from the field for the half. Ohio barely surpassed Radford with 18 rebounds compared to 17 for the Highlanders, but Ohio was able to almost triple Radford's points in the paint with 22 compared to eight points in the paint for the Highlanders. Radford, however, registered eight assists and three steals compared to Ohio's six assists and one steal for the half.
Ohio and Radford traded baskets to begin the second half, keeping Ohio's lead at six, 40-34, through the first five minutes of the second half. Preston and Carter combined for seven points compared to the Highlanders three points to increase the Bobcat lead to 10 with just over twelve minutes left in the second half. Radford answered with an 8-1 run to bring the Highlanders within three. Ohio, however, answered with a 10-3 run that gave the Bobcats a 58-48 lead with just under nine minutes remaining.
Hungry for the comeback, Radford strung together a three-point basket and an alley-oop dunk that brought the Highlanders within four, trailing 59-55, with just over six minutes to play. Ohio and Radford traded baskets which kept the Bobcat lead at four with under four minutes remaining. Preston and Carter once again were able to couple baskets together bringing Ohio ahead 70-62 with just under three minutes to play. Taylor contributed back-to-back baskets that pushed Ohio ahead 74-64 with under two minutes to play. Radford fought for its life with a three-point basket, trailing seven, with a minute remaining but Ohio was able to capitalize on its opportunities at the free-throw line to clinch the victory.
"We weren't a Lamborghini today, we were a pick-up truck," said Phillips. "It was just grind, grind, grind and that fits this team, we are tough."
Ohio finished the game with a 51 percent (27-of-53) field goal percentage and 39 total rebounds compared to Radford who finished the game with a 39 percent (25-of-64) field goal percentage and 31 total rebounds. Ohio registered 46 points in the paint and 20 points from the bench compared to 22 points in the paint and 12 points of the bench for the Highlanders. Ohio shot 80 percent from the free-throw line going 20-of-25 compared to Radford who shot 58 percent from the free-throw line, going 7-of-12.
Carlik Jones and Caleb Tanner both finished with a team-high 16 points to lead Radford in scoring. Jones added three rebounds, a team-high three steals and a team-high six assists in 31 minutes. Tanner added a rebound in his 30 minutes, while Travis Fields, Jr. followed closely behind with 14 points, while also compiling five rebounds, a steal and three assists in 31 minutes of play. Ed Polite, Jr. finished with seven points and a team-high eight rebounds, three assists and two steals in 37 minutes, while Devin Hutchinson added 10 points for Radford.
The Bobcats will return to action on Saturday, Dec. 15 as they head to Detroit, Mich. for a matchup with Detroit Mercy. Tip-off is set for 1 p.m. and can be seen on ESPN+.