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Bobcats score first 18 points, knock off Buffalo 80-69

Roderick has career game with 21 points

ATHENS – Ohio scored the game’s first 18 points and carried that to an 80-69 victory that snapped a six-game losing streak to Buffalo on Tuesday night at The Convo.

Ben Roderick had a career game, leading all players with 21 points while making 6 of 8 3-pointers. Jason Preston added 19 points, 10 rebounds and four assists, and Ben Vander Plas had 14 points, eight rebounds and five assists. Jordan Dartis finished with 12 points.

"Ben Roderick, coming off the missed free throw at Bowling Green, to have him put together that performance was huge for his confidence," Ohio coach Jeff Boals said. "For us, it might be the first time all year that someone other than Jason Preston led us in assists. They were double teaming Ben Vander Plas down low and he made great reads. Unlike the other night, we bent, but we didnt' break."

Jayvon Graves paced the Bulls (18-10, 9-6 Mid-American Conference) with 16 points and seven rebounds, Antwain Johnson had 15 points, and Josh Mball finished with 13 points and seven rebounds.

Preston got the big start going with a floater, and then the Bobcats (14-14, 6-9 MAC) got hot from deep. Roderick, Vander Plas, Roderick and then Roderick again connected on 3-pointers to make it 14-0 barely more than four minutes into the game.

"Everyday in practice I just keep getting up extra shots and watching film," Roderick said. "Tonight it just finally paid off and I just have to build on this night.

Vander Plas threw down a dunk following an offensive rebound, and Dartis took the ball to the hoop for a layup that made it 18-0 with 13:28 left in the half.

Davonta Jordan’s 3-pointer at the 13:00 mark finally got the Bulls on the board after they missed their first nine shots, and after four Ohio free throws made it 22-3, Buffalo quickly got back into the game with a 17-3 run that made it 25-20. Roderick connected on his fourth 3-pointer of the first half, and after a Jordan layup, Ohio made its second big run.

Dartis scored a layup, Preston hit a jumper, Sylvester Ogbonda got an easy layup off of a dish from Vander Plas, and then Dartis hit a 3-poiter to cap nine straight points for Ohio to increase its lead back out to 37-22. The Bobcats took a 39-26 lead into the break.

Buffalo made runs, but Ohio answered each time. It got as close as 48-41 on a Mballa free throw with 14:50 remaining, only for the Bobcats to double their advantage with seven straight points, going up 55-41 on an Ogbonda free throw with 12:36 to go. Johnson missed a showtime dunk attempt during the Ohio run, and Miles Brown’s layup a few minutes later made it 59-43.

Jayvon Graves hit a 3-pointer to cut Ohio’s lead to 61-52, but McDay came back with two free throws, and after an Mballa basket, Roderick hit another 3-pointer. Graves hit again from long range with 4:06 to go to make it 68-59, but Ogbonda assisted a Roderick layup to keep the Bulls from getting closer. Preston’s long 3-pointer with 2:45 to go pushed Ohio’s lead to 74-62.

The highest scoring team in the MAC, Buffalo shot just 33.9% in the game, including 9 of 25 (36%) from long range. It made 18 of 22 free throws, while Ohio was 23 of 31 from the foul line and shot 44.4% overall, including 9 of 24 on 3-pointers.

Ohio hosts Kent State at 630 p.m. Friday at The Convo on a game to be shown on CBS Sports Network.

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