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Ohio pulls away for 89-65 win over Iona

Vander Plas, Block have big games off the bench

ATHENS – Ohio had its best offensive game since its opener and ran away from Iona in the second half of an 89-65 victory Tuesday night at The Convo.

Jason Carter led the way with 20 points and six rebounds, Teyvion Kirk had 18 points, seven rebounds and five assists, and Ben Vander Plas had a career game off the bench with 18 points and 11 rebounds. Doug Taylor also had a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds.

"The focus we had in terms of playing to our strengths tonight offensively really showed," Ohio coach Saul Phillips said, "Twenty-three assists and we had three different guys with five assists, and they were really packing it in for a while. Ironically, this is this first team this season that's done that. But, we were stubborn in playing to our strengths and not letting people take us out of it. Then, what do you know, 33 percent and it felt like it was raining threes.”

After leading 43-37 at halftime, Ohio (4-2) gave up the opening basket of the second half before going on a roll with an 8-1 run to push the advantage to double digits.

A second even bigger run helped the Bobcats put the Gaels away. Leading 54-45 with 12:23 remaining, Ohio scored 13 straight points to take a 22-point lead just past the midway point in the second half. Gavin Block had a pair of 3-pointers during that stretch. He finished with 13 points and five rebounds.

“I've said it all along, this team doesn't have to be incredible at shooting 3s; they just have to be stubborn to their identity and then knock down the open ones when they get comfortable,” Phillips said. “When things are going well offensively, and the ball is going through the hoop, it tends to take a little of the pressure off.”

Tajuan Agee led Iona with 23 points and eight rebounds, while Rickey McGill had 16 points, six rebounds, five assists and four steals. No other players for the Gaels scored more than six.

The Bobcats shot 47.9 percent, making 7 of 22 3-pointers (31.8 percent) and 12 of 18 free throws. They continued their strong defensive showing this season by holding the Gaels to 32.3 percent shooting with 17 turnovers.

"Defensively, I can't say enough about the job that we did, particularly in the second half," Phillips said. "Iona is a good team, from a good conference, with good players. We did a very good job of keeping an eye on them. When you have a guard like McGill, you're going to win plenty of games. We forced Crawford into a tough night too. He's an outstanding player, as is Gist. We took three offensive players out of the game, and I'm proud of our guys for that.”

Ohio hosts rival Marshall at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at The Convo.

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