MUNCIE, Ind. --Led by 19 points from sophomore guard Teyvion Kirk, the Ohio men's basketball team (9-6, 1-2 MAC) picked up their first Mid-American Conference win, defeating Ball State (10-6, 1-2 MAC), 70-52, Saturday afternoon (Jan. 12) inside Worthen Arena.
"It was a good effort wire-to-wire," fifth-year head coach Saul Phillips said. "It was a good win over a good team. It can seem awfully dark after a few conference losses and you can go to some dark places within your own head, but the bottom line is, we know we are a very good defensive team. We're getting better offensively. That was probably our best offensively executed game of the year."
Kirk (Joliet, Ill.) led the Bobcats with 19 points, going 6-of-18 from the field and 7-of-12 from throw line, while grabbing nine rebounds. Redshirt sophomore forward Jason Carter (Johnstown, Ohio) added 13 points, going 5-of-12 from the field, 2-of-3 from beyond the arc, while grabbing nine boards. Senior forward Doug Taylor (Columbus, Ohio) scored 11 points and grabbed seven boards while going 5-of-6 from the field. Freshman guard Jason Preston (Orlando, Fla.) added a career-high eight assists off the bench.
Carter would get the Bobcats going in the first half, scoring Ohio's first five points, including draining his first three of the game at the 19:11 mark. Ohio would go on to take at 10-0 lead before Ball State would get on the board with a field goal at the 13:26 mark. After Ball State would cut the Ohio lead to 10-4, junior guard Antonio Cowart, Jr. (McComb, Miss.) would hit back-to-back threes to put that Bobcats up 16-4.
Ball State would cut the Ohio lead to 11 points with 7:28 left in the half, but free throws from Kirk and field goals from Taylor and redshirt junior guard James Gollon (Stevens Point, Wis.) would increase the Ohio lead to 24-9 with 5:51 remaining. Free throws from Gollon would give the Bobcats a 19-point lead before Ball State would be able to cut the lead to 31-15 with 2:16 left in the half. A three-point basketball from senior forward/guard Gavin Block (Lincoln, Ill.) at the end of the half would give the Bobcats a 38-18 lead as the teams went into the lock room.
At the half, the Bobcats shot 38.2 percent from the field, 50.0 percent from three-point range and 80.0 percent from the free throw line, while Ball State shot 27.3 percent from the field, 14.3 percent from three-point range and 50.0 percent from the free throw line. The Bobcats out-rebounded Ball State 23-16, while also dishing out eight assists to BSU's three and recording nine steals and forcing 13 turnovers. The Bobcats capitalized on those Cardinal turnovers, scoring 13 points off of them. The Bobcats also scored 16 points in the paint and 13 second chance points. The Bobcats also held Ball State to their lowest first have score of the season.
Taylor would open the second half up hitting two free throws to put the Bobcats up 22 early on. Ball State and the Bobcats would go on to trade baskets throughout the next five minutes, before the Cardinals would be able to cut the Ohio lead to 50-36 at the 10:44 mark. Gollon would stop the Ball State run with a three pointer at the 10:09 mark. Then after a field goal from Ball State, a layup and a thunderous dunk from Taylor would give the Bobcats a commanding 57-38 lead with 9:09 to go on the game.
That would be as close as the Cardinals would get the remainder of the game, with the Bobcats taking a 23-point lead with 3:40 to go. Ball State would be unable catch a late game run, and the Bobcats would go on the take the game by the final of 70-52.
Overall, Ohio shot 41.7 percent from the field, 47.1 from three-point range and 57.1 from the free throw line, while Ball State shot 35.4 percent from the field, 8.3 percent from three-point range and 63.0 percent from the free throw line. Ohio out-rebounded the Cardinals 39-36, including grabbing 12 offensive boards to BSU's nine. The Bobcats also dished out 13 assists to Ball State's five, while also recording 13 steals and registering three blocks, compared to Ball State's one block and eight steals. The Bobcats also forced the Cardinals to turn the ball over 19 times and scored 19 points off of them. Ohio scored 32 points in the paint and 14 second chance points.
For Ball State, the Cardinals were led by Tayler Persons, who scored 16 points, going 7-for-17 from the field. K.J. Walton and Zach Gunn both added 10 points, while Trey Moses grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds.
Up next, the Bobcats return to Athens for a match up with Kent State on Tuesday, Jan. 15. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. inside the Convocation Center.