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Ohio drops MAC opener at Western Michigan 77-65

Bobcats struggle on offense for 2nd straight game

KALAMAZOO, Mich. Ohio struggled offensively again, shooting just 33.8% in a 77-65 loss to Western Michigan to begin Mid-American Conference play Saturday at University Arena.

The Bobcats were 24 of 71 from the field, including 8 of 33 (24.2%) from 3-point range. Even so, Ohio hung in the game until a late Western Michigan run put it away.

Michael Flowers hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 5:10 remaining and followed with another one about a minute later to help the Broncos prevail down the stretch.

Baskets by Jason Preston and Jordan Dartis got Ohio to within two points on two different occasions, but Western Michigan scored 10 straight points after that, with the Bobcats missing four straight shots and then turning it over twice in a row.

Vander Plas led the Bobcats (8-6, 0-1 MAC) with 16 points and 13 rebounds, with Dartis scoring 14 points in only 23 minutes because of foul trouble. Jason Preston had 11 points and seven assists.

Brandon Johnson and Artis White had 18 points each for the Broncos, who also got 16 points from Titus Wright and 15 from Flowers, who was 3 of 4 from long range. Western Michigan shot 42.6%, including 7 of 20 from long range, and made 24 of 28 free throws (85.7%).

The Broncos (8-6, 1-0 MAC) began the game with a 13-0 run, but the Bobcats came back with a 16-2 run to take a one-point lead with 7:48 left in the first half. Western Michigan followed with a 10-2 spurt to regain control and went up 33-24 at halftime.

"They came out and punched us in the mouth, and then punched us in the mouth again and then they did it a third time, and before you knew it, we were down 13-2," Ohio coach Jeff Boals said. "That's what Western does.

The Bobcats slowly battled back, tying the game at 53 with 8:02 left on a Connor Murrell dunk. The game was even from there until the Broncos regained control in the final few minutes.

Murrell scored seven points and had seven rebounds in 19 minutes in his first game of the season. Ben Roderick also came back from an injury and had six points in 21 minutes off the bench. Ohio was as close to full health as it has been this year, though freshman Marvin Price was not with the team after reportedly entering the transfer portal.

Ohio takes on Eastern Michigan at 7 p.m. Tuesday at The Convo.

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