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Ohio overcomes awful offensive start to beat Eastern Michigan

Bobcats miss first 11 shots but rally in 2nd half

YPSILANTI, Mich. Ohio overcame a terrible offensive start to beat Eastern Michigan for the second time this season, taking a 60-58 victory on Saturday at The Convocation Center in Ypsilanti.

The Bobcats missed their first 11 field goal attempts, trailed by 13 late in the first half but came back to shoot 60% in the second half, beating the Eagles 11 days after topping them in Athens and keeping them winless in Mid-American Conference play.

Ben Vander Plas led the way once again with 22 points and 11 rebounds, while Jason Preston had 14 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. Jordan Dartis added 11 points.

But for most of the first half, points were extremely hard to come by for Ohio (10-8, 2-3 MAC). It trailed 12-4 when it finally made its first field goal on a bucket by Vander Plas with 11:13 remaining in the first half. The Eagles (10-8, 0-5 MAC) pushed their lead to 25-12 on a Yeikson Montero basket with 3:20 to go.

A Dartis 3-pointer with two minutes left helped the Bobcats finish the half strong. Ben Roderick drained a shot from deep, and after a Ty Groce jumper for the Eagles, Ohio got a Preston free throw to trail 28-21 at the break despite shooting just 5 of 28 (17.9%).

Eastern Michigan led 35-25 early in the second half when the Bobcats made their biggest run of the game, beginning with a pair of Vander Plas buckets inside. Dartis followed with a 3-pointer to make it a three-point game.

After a Montero layup, Vander Plas connected from long range and then scored a basket on a Preston assist to tie the game at 37 with 13:56 to go. Neither team scored again until three minutes later when Preston beat the shot clock with a banked-in jumper to put the Bobcats on top for the first time.

After a Ty Groce 3-pointer to briefly give the lead back to the Eagles, the Bobcats scored nine straight, capped by two Dartis free throws for a 48-40 lead. In all, it was a 23-5 run.

Eastern Michigan got back to within three at 54-51 on a couple of Noah Morgan free throws with 3:18 to go, but Preston fed Lunden McDay for a key layup to extend the lead. After a Morgan jumper, McDay converted a three-point play to make it 59-53 with 1:36 to go.

But the Eagles gave themselves a chance late. Morgan hit another jumper, and after an Ohio miss, Morgan got inside and converted a three-point play to make it 59-58 with one minute remaining.

The Bobcats turned it over on a Preston travel with 32 seconds left, but Ohio forced a tough shot attempt by Groce and rebounded. Vander Plas hit the first of two free throws with four seconds left, and Morgan got up a desperation 3-pointer at the buzzer but it was off the mark.

Morgan had a career game for Eastern Michigan with 23 points and five rebounds. Groce had 17 points and five boards.

Ohio recovered from its awful start to shoot 37.7% in the game but finished with 18 turnovers. Eastern Michigan shot just 34.4%. Neither team was good at the foul line. The Bobcats went 14 of 27, and the Eagles were 9 of 18.

Sylvester Ogbonda scored only three points but had 14 rebounds for Ohio, which had a 50-38 advantage on the boards.

Ohio returns home to face Toledo at 7 p.m. Tuesday at The Convo.

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