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Ohio defense shuts down Ball State in bounce back win

Bobcats build big halftime lead, cruise past Cardinals 70-52

MUNCIE, Ind. – Ohio scored the first 10 points and shut down one of the Mid-American Conference’s best offenses, picking up its first league win in dominating fashion on the road, 70-52 over ball State on Saturday at Worthen Arena.

The Cardinals shot below 40 percent for the first time this season, finishing at just 35.4 percent, including only 27.3 percent in the first half as the Bobcats ran out to a 39-18 lead at the break. Ball State came in averaging 81.9 points per game.

Teyvion Kirk scored 19 points and added nine rebounds and three steals, Jason Carter also was just shy of a double-double with 13 points and nine boards, and Doug Taylor had 11 points – including a highlight alley-oop dunk – and seven rebounds for Ohio (9-6, 1-2 MAC).

Tayler Persons had 16 points for the Cardinals (10-6, 1-2 MAC). K.J. Walton and Zach Gunn had 10 points each. The team’s second-leading scorer, Tahjai Teague, was held 10 below his average with just 5 points.

"It was a good effort wire-to-wire," Ohio 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."

Carter scored the game’s first five points with a layup and a 3-pointer, and Kirk followed with two straight buckets in the paint. He added a free throw to make it 10-0 before Ball State’s first basket came on a short jumper by Persons more than six and a half minutes into the game.

Later, back-to-back Antonio Cowart Jr. 3-pointers put the Bobcats up 16-4, and the lead reached 24-9 on a Taylor putback dunk with 4:17 left in the half. The Cardinals finally reached double digits on a Gunn 3-pointer at the 3:52 mark but Ben Vander Plas answered with one for Ohio. The Bobcats got a corner 3-pointer from Gavin block 20 seconds before the end of the half to take a 39-18 lead at the break.

From there, Ball State only was able to make a slight run. A Persons 3-point play with 10:44 remaining made it 50-36, and an Ohio turnover gave the Cardinals a chance to get closer but Persons missed and Gollon drained a fast-break 3-pointer. A minute later, Taylor caught a lob from Jason Preston and threw it down hard while drawing a foul, making the score 57-38.

The Bobcats’ biggest lead was 68-45 with 3:14 remaining on a Block jumper.

Ohio got production from all of its regular rotation players. Vander Plas scored 8 points, Gollon finished with 7, and Block and Cowart Jr. each had 6. Preston did not score, taking only two shots, but he dished out eight assists.

By forcing 19 turnovers while committing only 13 and owning a 12-9 offensive rebounding advantage, the Bobcats attempted 12 more shots that the Cardinals and made eight more. Ball State was just 1 of 12 from long range, compared to 8 of 17 by Ohio.

Trey Moses had 13 rebounds but only two points and five turnovers for the Cardinals.

After getting outscored 15-0 on points off turnovers against Bowling Green, Ohio held a 19-6 advantage on Ball State and also dominated second-chance points 14-2.

Ohio returns home to face Kent State at 7 p.m. Tuesday at The Convo.

Additional Coverage:
Doug Taylor dunk  (Ohio Bobcats.com)

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