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Dartis, Preston lift Ohio to season-opening win at St. Bonaventure

Preston dishes out 13 assists, Dartis scores 19 points

OLEAN, N.Y. – Welcome back, Jordan Dartis.

The senior sharpshooter who missed all of last season with a hip injury scored 19 points as Ohio pulled away for a 65-52 victory against St. Bonaventure to open the season Tuesday night at the Reilly Center.

Jason Preston had a double-double of 11 points and 13 assists while adding six rebounds and six steals, and Ben Vander Plas scored 12 points for the Bobcats (1-0).

Ohio, picked to finish last in the Mid-American Conference in virtually every preseason poll, held the Bonnies (0-1) to 36.4% shooting to get Jeff Boals a coaching win in his regular season debut with his alma mater.

"I'm really proud of our guys," Boals said. "No. 1, what a great atmosphere tonight. We tried to crank the noise the last couple days in practice. We had crowd noise. The fight song goings. But we didn't do that justice. I have a ton of respect for Coach Schmidt. I worked for him for two years at Robert Morris and it's never easy going against one of your friends. But, i'm really proud of our guys and the effort level we played with for 40 minutes."

Offensively, Dartis gave the Bobcats what they needed by knocking down 3 of 8 3-point tries and 7 of 14 shots overall. His trey two and a half minutes into the game were Ohio’s first points of the season, and the Bobcats did not trail in the game after a Sylvester Ogbonda 3-pointer made it 6-4.

Dartis added another 3-pointer and then a long 2-pointer to extend the Bobcats’ lead to 13-6, and the team’s early hot shooting continued with a Nate Springs triple that made it 16-8.

On multiple occasions, St. Bonaventure cut its deficit to two points, but each time, Ohio answered. Preston assisted a Vander Plas 3-pointer to make the score 21-16 and then hit Springs for another shot from deep for a 26-21 lead. Preston’s putback layup at the end of the first half gave Ohio a 32-25 advantage.

The Bonnies closed to within 33-31 early in the second half, but Lunden McDay and Ogbonda scored back-to-back buckets before Springs hit again from long range to make it 40-31. Preston’s jumper capped the big run to take the lead into double digits.

St. Bonaventure got to within 50-44 on a Kyle Lofton layup with 7:11 to go, but Dartis scored a 3-pointer and then a layup, both assisted by Preston, to take the lead back to 11. From there, the Bobcats coasted down the stretch.

Double-digit favorites, the Bonnies were led by Alejandro Vasquez’s 11 points, while Amadi Ikpeze added 10 points. Bobby Planutis had eight points and 10 rebounds before fouling out in the final minute.

Springs, a 6-foot-10 redshirt freshman, made 3 of 4 attempts from 3-point range to score nine points with three assists in his regular season debut. Georgia Tech transfer Ogbonda had five points and six rebounds.

Ohio remained without anticipated rotation players junior Connor Murrell and freshmen Ben Roderick, Miles Brown and Marvin Price, who also missed Saturday’s exhibition victory against Capital.

"We're down four scholarship kids and only have eight scholarship kids right now," Boals said. "We knew coming in that to give us any chance we had to compete for 40 minutes and play harder. I thought our guys did a good job of that."

It was the 16th straight victory for the Bobcats in a season opener.

They return to Athens for their home opener against Heidelberg at 1 p.m. Saturday at The Convo.

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