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Vander Plas, Dartis help Ohio hold off Morehead State

Bobcats start fast but have to hold off Eagles in the end

ATHENS – Jordan Dartis and Ben Vander Plas combined for 49 points, and Ohio held off Morehead State 82-76 on Saturday afternoon at The Convo.

Vander Plas had 24 points, 11 rebounds and four assists, while Dartis went 5 of 10 from long range and scored 25 points. Jason Preston added 13 points, six rebounds and eight assists.

It was just enough for Ohio (8-4). Morehead State (5-7) led 39-38 at halftime and stayed in contention until the final minutes.

Lunden McDay’s 3-pointer with 5:16 remaining, assisted by Vander Plas, gave Ohio the lead for the last time, 68-65. Dartis followed with a 3-pointer to give the Bobcats a six-point advantage, and he then matched an Eagles basket with one of his own to make it 73-67 with 3:12 to go.

Morehead State made it a one-possession game again with just over a minute remaining on a Djimon Henson 3-pointer that got the Eagles to within 75-72, but Preston assisted a Vander Plas basket.

Malik Riddle’s free throws made it a three-point game again. Sylvest Ogbonda answered with two foul shots that make it 79-74 with 43 seconds left. After a Morehead State miss, Preston made one free throw to help Ohio put it away.

"I think the biggest thing is we got off to a good start," Ohio coach Jeff Boals said. "We let them back into the game because of lack of defensive intensity and at halftime I basically told them that was the most disappointed I've been in this group from an effort standpoint and an energy standpoint.”

The Bobcats built an early 25-13 lead on a Dartis 3-pointer with 11:02 left in the first half, but the Eagles got back to within one with a 13-2 run. They took the lead shortly before halftime on a James Baker basket and got a Henson 3-pointer just before the break to go up by one.

Jordan Walker led Morehead State with 24 points, while Henson finished with 22.

“We're not good enough to just roll out and beat someone man-to-man straight up five on five,” Boals said. “We have to bring it every possession, and pretty much all year we've done that. I really felt we let out guard and it wasn't on the offensive end but was more defense."

Ohio hosts Campbell at 2 p.m. Dec. 29 at The Convo.

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