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Balanced Ohio rolls past Cleveland State

All 5 starters score 8 or more points

CLEVELAND – Balanced Ohio had all five starters score eight or more points in a 67-56 victory against Cleveland State on Saturday night at the Wolstein Center.

Mark Sears led the way for the Bobcats (2-0) with 15 points and four assists, while Miles Brown had 10 points. Ben Vander Plas had nine points and nine rebounds, while Jason Carter and Ben Roderick scored eight points each.

"That was a great road win for us," Ohio coach Jeff Boals said. "Awesome Ohio contingency here. I thought we had more fans than they did, and we have a big alumni base up here. So that was great to see.”

Ohio took control early, taking the lead for good on a pair of Sears free throws with 14:17 left in the first half. Vander Plas followed with a 3-pointer, and after a Cleveland State basket, back-to-back 3-pointers by Tommy Schmock and Sam Towns made it 18-9.

A few minutes later, Brown connected from long range to push the lead to double digits, and Brown followed with a layup to put Ohio ahead 25-13. Roderick and Vander Plas added 3-pointers for a 31-15 advantage.

“We knew they were going to come out and deny,” Boals said. “We knew that first four-minute war we'd have to kind of take the wave and we really talked about getting off to a great start because of the way that they play. They just make you play basketball, because they trap, they deny, they switch, and I thought our guys for not really seeing that did a great job of handling everything."

The Vikings (0-2) cut their deficit to 35-27 early in the second half, but Roderick followed with a 3-pointer. Cleveland State’s only other single-digit deficit was 42-33, and again, a 3-pointer – this one from Brown – followed. A Towns alley-oop layup pushed the Bobcats’ lead up to 57-39 with 9:26 remaining. Ohio matched its biggest lead at 67-49 with 2:40 left on a Sears 3-pointer.

Broc Finstuen had 14 points off the bench to lead the Vikings.

Neither team shot the ball well overall – Ohio 38.1% and Cleveland State 38.2% - but the Bobcats hit on 11 of 27 3-pointers compared to just 4 of 19 for the Vikings.

Ohio hosts Robert Morris at 7 p.m. Monday at The Convo.

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