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Ohio opens basketball season with blowout of Chicago State

McDay leads Bobcats with 15 points

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – Ohio began the second half with a huge run to run away with an 84-61 victory against Chicago State to open the men’s basketball season Wednesday at the State Farm Center at the University of Illinois.

The Cougars hung close for one half, trailing 41-29 at the break, before the Bobcats blew open a huge lead with an 18-2 advantage over the first six minutes of the second half.

Lunden McDay led five Ohio players in double figures with 15 points. Jason Preston scored 11 points with eight assists and six rebounds, and Ben Vander Plas matched him with 11 points. Transfer Dwight Wilson III, just ruled eligible a few days before, had 10 points and seven rebounds.

“Our goal after today was to be 1-0 and obviously we did that,” Ohio coach Jeff Boals said.

A Vander Plas free throw got things started in the second half, and Ben Roderick’s three-point play was the final of eight straight Ohio points to push its lead to 20. After a basket by Chicago State’s Lou Demuth, McDay connected on a 3-pointer that was the first of 10 consecutive points by the Bobcats, the last seven by Vander Plas to make it 59-31 with 14:36 remaining.

That allowed Ohio to sub freely in the second half, and 10 different players played 11 or more minutes in the game.

“I thought we did a lot of really good things. Shooting 58 percent from the field and 42 percent from 3,” Boals said. “But there’s a lot of things that we can get better at. Rebounding, free throws and I thought we had some careless turnovers. But we got some valuable minutes for the freshmen and new guys and they're going to continue to get better and better game-by-game.”

Sophomore Miles Brown and freshman Mark Sears scored seven points each in 16 and 11 minutes, respectively, and freshman Sam Towns got 20 minutes and scored four points with four rebounds. Another freshman, Jalen White had five points in 12 minutes.

Demuth helped the Cougars, who have lost 24 or more games six years in a row, take an early 9-7 lead on a 3-pointer before a Vander Plas three-point play put the Bobcats up for good. McDay’s 3-pointer with 11:58 left in the first half extended Ohio’s lead to 18-11.

Ohio’s biggest lead of the first half was 39-24 on a Brown jumper with less than a minute remaining, but Andrew Lewis scored the final five points of the half to get Chicago State back to within 10.

Demuth led the balanced Cougars with 12 points, with Isaiah Lewis and Jordan Polynice scoring 11 each and Andrew Lewis 10 points.

The Cougars shot just 35.1% from the field, compared to 58.3% for the Bobcats, who also led on the boards 33-27.

Ohio faces North Carolina A&T at 3 p.m. Thursday. The Aggies lost their opener in the event to Illinois 122-60.

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