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Ohio's comeback against Akron falls short 88-86

Jackson scores 35 in Zips' victory

ATHENS – Loren Christian Jackson scored 35 points, and Mid-American Conference leading Akron held off Ohio 88-86 on Saturday at The Convo.

Jordan Dartis paced the Bobcats with 21 points, with Ben Vander Plas adding 18 points despite early foul trouble, but Ohio could not overcome 13-of-23 3-point shooting – including 7 of 9 by Jackson – by one of the nation’s top outside shooting teams.

Jackson’s jumper with 1:53 remaining gave the Zips an 86-79 lead, but the Bobcats (10-10, 2-5 MAC) were able to make a game of it, beginning with a Vander Plas dunk. After a miss by Akron, Dartis drained a 3-pointer after Ohio’s third offensive rebound of the possession to make it 86-84 with about 40 seconds to go.

Jackson, who scored 17 of Akron’s final 19 points, made two free throws with 12 seconds left to make it a two-possession game, and it took until less than three seconds remained for Preston to convert a basket to make it 88-86. Preston almost got a steal but was ruled out of bounds and, after another ball tipped out of bounds, the Zips got the ball in to run out the rest of the clock.

“At halftime, I thought our guys could have folded, but they didn't, just like they haven't all year,” Ohio coach Jeff Boals said. “They're great kids and they responded the way I thought they would. I told them after the game, that the tale of two halves, that the energy level is what we need to do for 40 minutes.”

Ohio scored the game’s opening basket but Akron ruled the rest of the first half. Its lead was 25-11 on a Channel Banks three-point play at the 11:11 mark, and after the Bobcats rallied to cut their deficit to 32-30 with 5:14 to go, the Zips closed the half on a 16-2 run to go up 48-32.

The Bobcats used an 11-0 run to get back in it, capped by a Ben Roderick 3-pointer that cut Akron’s lead to 61-58 with 11:35 remaining, but Tyler Cheese answered from long range for the Zips (16-4, 6-1 MAC). A Preston jumper a couple of minutes later made it 64-63, and Channel Banks followed with a 3-pointer.

Cheese finished with 16 points, and Banks and Xeyrius Williams had 12 each for the Zips, who shot 56.9% overall.

Preston had 15 points and nine assists, and Lunden McDay contributed 11 points and five rebounds. Sylvester Ogbonda grabbed 10 rebounds to go with six points.

“Every single guy who played at one point there is something they could have done with more effort to change the outcome of the game, including myself,” Boals said. “That's where we have to continue to get better."

Ohio was 10 of 22 on 3-pointers and shot 55.6% overall, including 61.8% - with a 7-of-11 effort on 3-pointers – in the second half, but the Zips shot 62.5% after the break, including 6 of 9 from beyond the arc.

The Bobcats taken on Northern Illinois at 7 p.m. Tuesday at The Convocation Center in DeKalb, Illinois.

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