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Bobcats hold off Hilltoppers 89-84

Laster scores 23 points to lead Ohio

ATHENS – Ohio used a big early run to take control and then held on down the stretch to beat Western Kentucky, 89-84, in a non-conference game Sunday afternoon at The Convo.

The Bobcats led by as much as 16 points in the second half before the Hilltoppers closed the gap to three points late.

Mike Laster scored 23 points and grabbed six rebounds, and Teyvion Kirk had 17 points and nine boards. Kevin Mickle added 17 points, James Gollon had 13 points, and Jason Carter had 12 points in 19 minutes in his second game back from injury.

Taveion Hollingsworth led Western Kentucky with 19 points. Justin Johnson had 16 points and 13 rebounds, and Darius Thompson, Jake Ohmer and Dwight Coleby scored 12 points apiece.

Ohio held its biggest lead of 68-52 on two Laster free throws with 7:47 remaining, and Laster’s layup made it 75-60 with 4:42 left before Western Kentucky made its late run.

Thompson and Coleby had back-to-back baskets, but Mickle came back with a basket to make it 77-64 with 3:14 to go. The Hilltoppers followed with an 8-0 run, capped by a Johnson put-back layup with 1:30 to go, making it 79-74.

Ohio’s lead was 85-78 with just 30 seconds left when Carter split two free throws. Hollingsworth hit two fouls hots and then stole the ball and scored with 14 seconds to go to make it 85-82. But Carter hit two free throws, and Thompson missed all three after he was fouled on a 3-pointer. That led to two more foul shots by Kirk with 4 seconds left.

Down 6-5 in the early going, Laster made two technical free throws at the 16:52 mark in the first half to put Ohio ahead for good. They call was against former Buffalo point guard Lamonte Bearden, who ended up with 7 points in just 12 minutes before fouling out.

Kirk added a layup, Gavin Block hit a 3-pointer, Laster scored inside, and Mickle made two free throws to make it 16-6 with 14:03 left, capping an 11-0 run. The lead reached 29-14 on a Kirk layup at the 7:42 mark and then 40-24 on a Gollon basket with 1:36 to go before Ohio settled for a 42-30 lead at halftime.

The Hilltoppers continued a 10-0 run with the first six points of the second half, but the Bobcats later had a 10-0 run to take a 16-point lead with 13:10 remaining.

Ohio shot 46.4 percent from the floor, while Western Kentucky shot 47.1 percent. The difference was at the foul line where the Bobcats were 31 of 35 (88.6 percent) and the Hilltoppers were 15 of 24 (62.5 percent).

Jordan Dartis missed the game with a foot injury for Ohio.

The Bobcats play at 8 p.m. Saturday at Marshall.

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