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St. Francis misses potential go-ahead shots, Ohio holds on

Red Flash nearly rally from 12-point deficit in final 5 minutes

ATHENS Mark Sears scored 24 points, and Ohio held on to beat St. Francis 78-75 on Saturday at The Convo.

The Bobcats (6-2) led by as many as 18 points in the first half. The Red Flash (3-4) cut the deficit to two in the middle of the second half, and then after falling behind by 12 with less than five minutes remaining, they rallied to within one with a chance to win. After a Maxwell Land steal, Ronell Giles Jr. and Josh Cohen both missed shots in the paint in the closing seconds, and Sears closed out the game with a couple of free throws.

"In that type of situation, we're trying not to foul and put them on the line, so we just go straight up," Sears said. "And then we just got to find a body and box out and we got to come up with that 50/50 ball, which we did and then we won the game."

Ben Vander Plas finished with 13 points. Jason Carter and Miles Brown had 10 points each for Ohio.

Myles Thompson had 19 points to lead five St. Francis players in double figures.

A 12-0 run early in the first half put Ohio up 17-8, and it seemed the Bobcats might roll after a Carter steal and assist for a Sam Towns layup made it 41-23 with 1:18 left in the first half. St. Francis, though, scored the final seven points before the break to get back in it and then worked its way even closer in the second half, trailing just 56-54 with 10:47 left on a Giles layup following a Ramiir Dixon-Conover steal.

A Vander Plas layup with 4:57 left made it 74-62, but the Red Flash outscored the Bobcats 13-2 down the stretch, cutting their deficit to one on a pair of Dixon-Conover free throws with 11 seconds to go.

"We were very fortunate to win the game," Ohio coach Jeff Boals said. "We knew coming in they were a good team, that they put a lot of pressure on you on the offensive and on the defensive end by driving the basketball. And I've known (St. Francis) Coach (Rob) Krimmel for a long time now and he does a very good job. They are a very well coached team, and you know, just feel fortunate to win made enough plays at the end to get it done."

With Lunden McDay out and Ben Roderick continuing to struggle with his shot, Tommy Schmock had a good game off the bench for the Bobcats with eight points and six assists in 24 minutes. Towns had seven points and four rebounds in 16 minutes. Carter fouled out with 2:36 remaining.

Land finished with 15 points, and Cohen had 14 points for the Red Flash. Giles finished with 12 points, seven assists and five rebounds, and Dixon-Conover had 10 points, six rebounds and five assists.

The Bobcats committed 20 turnovers, including eight charged to Sears, but overcame them by shooting 53.6% for the game.

Ohio has a week off before a road trip to face Stetson at 3 p.m. Saturday in DeLand, Florida.

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