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Preston's 27 points help Ohio hold off Iona

Bobcats improve to 3-0 by shooting 55.8% on the road

NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. – Jason Preston had a career scoring game, finishing with 27 points to lead Ohio to an 81-72 road victory against Iona on Wednesday night at the Hynes Center.

Preston went 10 of 17 from the field while playing all 40 minutes and added 14 rebounds and five assists. He knocked down 2 of 4 3-pointers and was 5 of 5 at the foul line.

Jordan Dartis and Lunden McDay had 13 points each, and Ben Vander Plas had 12 points for the undefeated Bobcats (3-0).

E.J. Crawford had 21 points for the Gaels, who were a near unanimous preseason pick to win their fourth straight Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference championship.

"I'm really proud with our effort level over 40 minutes," coach Jeff Boals said. "We knew it was going to be a 40-minute game. They went to La Salle the other night and stormed back and made some 3s in the second half and tied it up, We knew what was coming and like we did against St. Bonaventure, we bent but we didn't break."

Ohio led throughout the contest, and when Iona made a run, Preston was there to put a stop to it.

After the Gaels trailed by as many as 13 points in the second half, Dylan Van Eyck’s free throws with 4:31 to go made it 66-65. The Bobcats broke Iona’s pressure to get a Sylvester Ogbonda dunk, and Preston followed with a 3-pointer and then a bucket in the paint to push Ohio’s lead back to eight.

Crawford made two free throws with 2:23 to go to make it 73-67, but on the next possession, Preston made a backward over-the-head no-look pass to Vander Plas for a layup to extend the lead again. Preston hit a pair of free throws with 48 seconds to go and then two more a few seconds later to help put it away.

Playing their first game in a new arena, the Gaels held a 9-5 lead early follow an Asante Gist 3-pointer, but the Bobcats answered with treys by Vander Plas and McDay to take an 11-9 lead. A Nate Springs 3-pointer put Ohio up for good 19-16 with 11:23 left in the first half.

McDay connected from deep to put Ohio ahead 26-24 at the 5:37 mark, and that was the start of a 10-0 run. Preston scored in the paint and then knocked down a jumper before Ogbonda hit from beyond the arc to make it 33-24. After Iona made a run, Preston scored the final points of the half on a three-point play to give Ohio a 36-31 lead.

Iona got as close as 38-36 early in the second half on a Crawford jumper in the paint, but Preston answered with a steal and layup. Later, back-to-back 3-pointers by Dartis and Preson pushed the lead to 55-44, and a Nolan Foster basket gave Ohio its biggest lead, 57-44, midway through the second half.

Defensive pressure by Iona helped cause turnovers that got it back in the game. Van Ecky made two free throws that cut the Bobcats’ lead to 60-55 but McDay answered with a 3-pointer. Then after two Crawford free throws got the Gaels back to within four, Preston scored a layup to make it 65-59.

Crawford’s layup with 4:40 remaining were followed by Van Eyck’s steel and free throws to make it a one-point game.

The Bobcats overcame 19 turnovers, including seven by Preston and six by Vander Plas, by shooting 55.8%, including 52% (13 of 25) from long range. The Gaels (0-2) shot 42.1%, getting 13 points from Gist and 12 points from Tajuan Agee.

Ohio faces an even bigger road challenge when it takes on Villanova at noon Saturday at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.

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