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Ohio holds on after giving up 25-point lead

Cardinals miss 3 shots, have 1 turnover in final 2 minutes

MUNCIE, Ind. – Ball State erased a 25-point first-half deficit, but Ohio held on down the stretch for a 79-77 victory Friday night at Worthen Arena.

The Bobcats led 46-21 with 3:13 left in the first half, but the Cardinals quickly got back in the game, cutting their deficit to one with 6:29 remaining and even taking a 73-72 lead on a Ryan Weber 3-pointer with 4:21 to go.

Jordan Dartis led a balanced Ohio attack with 16 points. Jason Carter had 15 points and nine rebounds, Mike Laster finished with 14 points, and Jaaron Simmons and Gavin Block scored 13 points each.

Following Weber’s lead-changing basket, a hand-check foul was followed by a Tayler Persons technical foul, and Ohio (15-8, 7-5 Mid-American Conference) hit three of four free throws to take the lead for good. Simmons scored two more free throws at the 3:19 mark to make it a four-point game.

Weber scored inside, and Laster answered for the Bobcats before Trey Moses scored the final points of the game with 2:24 remaining.

Dartis came up with a steal to stop one Cardinals opportunity, and Moses missed on the front end of a one-and-one with 1:03 to go. Weber was off the mark on a 3-pointer following an offensive rebound, and then Moses missed a jumper at the buzzer to allow the Bobcats to escape.

"We made a defensive play, and we got two deflections on that possession before they ultimately got their shot off," Ohio coach Saul Phillips said. "You can't give up these kinds of leads all the time, and I know that, but the bungee cord was just short enough that we didn't splatter on the concrete this time. I'm proud of our guys."

Moses led Ball State’s offense that also had plenty of balance with 17 points and 12 rebounds. Sean Sellers scored 14 points, Parsons and Francis Kiapway had 12 each, and Weber finished with 11.

Ohio shot 62.1 percent in the first half while racing out to a 49-30 halftime advantage that was as big as 44-19 and then 46-21.

With the game tied at 7, Ohio surged ahead, outscoring Ball State 22-4 over the next six minutes. After Ball State (15-10, 6-6 MAC) cut its deficit to 30-17 at the 7:55 mark, Dartis hit a 3-pointer, Laster scored a layup and then hit a 3-pointer of his own, Block scored a layup and Laster scored two more points to cap a 12-0 run.

After shooting 34.6 percent in the first half, the Cardinals shot 51.6 percent in the second half, including 8 of 15 on 3-pointers. The Bobcats connected on 36.0 percent of their second-half attempts.

"When it got down to the final minutes, I think we just wanted it more," Dartis said. "We played with a higher energy and a higher intensity."

After two straight 30-point games, Simmons was just 4 of 15 with five assists and six turnovers. Kenny Kaminski had only one point while playing just 16 minutes because of foul trouble. Ball State’s Frank House also had foul trouble, finishing with just five points in 19 minutes.

Ohio plays at Eastern Michigan at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

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