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Bobcats blow out Zips at the JAR

Vander Plas scores 20 points to lead Ohio

AKRON – In a complete turnaround from the earlier meeting, Ohio dominated Akron in a 73-49 rout Saturday at James A. Rhodes Arena.

The Bobcats led 39-19 at halftime and were more than doubling up the Zips near the midway point in the second half 59-29. The lead reached 31 at 66-35 with 8:39 remaining.

Ben Vander Plas had his second breakthrough performance, scoring 20 points on 6-of-10 3-point shooting, falling just shy of his career-high performance of 24 points two weeks ago against Central Michigan. Doug Taylor added 14 points, and Teyvion Kirk finished with 11 points.

“It felt really good,” Ohio coach Saul Phillips said. “It also felt good to do it in a pretty convincing fashion where we took control early and stayed in control of it. I can’t say I’m shocked just by the fact that I’ve seen good things the last three or four times out. I see us keep building and I see us having a lot of potential to do some neat things.”

But the blowout had more to do with defense. The Zips (15-14, 7-9 Mid-American Conference) shot just 29.3 percent (17 of 58) in the game, including a 4-of-22 performance from 3-point range. They were 11 of 19 on free throws. Deng Riak had 11 points as the only Akron player to reach double figures.

A month ago, the Zips to a 65-53 victory against the Bobcats in a game they led by as many as 26 points in the second half.

After losing six in a row – punctuated by a 114-67 blowout by Buffalo – Ohio (13-15, 5-11 MAC) has won two of its last three.

“I know it doesn’t happen if you don’t have a bunch of guys who continue to work through the face of adversity and I know it doesn’t happen if you’ve got guys who let frustration get in the way of learning and still growing together and trying to get better,” Phillips said.

Ohio used an 8-0 run to take a 10-2 lead barely more than five minutes into the game. Later, a 10-1 run, capped by a Vander Plas 3-pointer, made it 30-13 with 4:28 left in the first half. Another Vander Plas triple extended the lead to 20 at 37-17 just before halftime. Then early in the second half, Ohio went on a 10-0 run capped by a Doug Taylor three-point play that made it 59-29.

"I think we've done a great job at coming into practice every day and working hard and knowing what we have to do, "Vander Plas said. "And now we're having that translate into the game and got into an offensive rhythm. It's just something we just need to keep rolling.”

For the third straight game, freshman point guard Jason Preston did not have a turnover. He had five assists and nine rebounds to go with his 2 points, giving up 20 assists and 23 rebounds over the last three games.

Ohio succeeded despite just 7 points on 2-of-7 shooting from leading scorer Jason Carter. Antonio Cowart Jr. scored 9 points.

The Bobcats shot 45.6 percent (26 of 57) and were 12 of 14 on free throws. They had a 39-34 rebounding advantage and had fewer turnovers 14-10.

"This felt great," Taylor said. "It was my first career win here and it feels really good. I've had such bad memories in here, so getting this win in their house is a great feeling."

Ohio is at home for its final two regular season games, starting with a matchup against Buffalo at 7 p.m. Tuesday at The Convo.

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