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Sears scores career-high 33 as Ohio tops USC Upstate 85-70

Spartans take lead in 2nd half before Bobcats finish strong

ATHENS Mark Sears scored a career-high 33 points as Ohio finished strong to put away USC Upstate 85-70 in the nonconference finale Tuesday afternoon at The Convo.

Jason Carter and Ben Vander Plas scored 12 points each, and Ben Roderick finished with 11 points for the Bobcats (9-2).

The Spartans (3-8) held the lead at 52-51 on a Jordan Gainey jumper with 11:33 remaining. Ohio, though, was able to take it back on an AJ Clayton dunk a minute later and then began to pull away.

A Vander Plas 3-pointer with 8:08 to go gave the Bobcats a two-possession lead at 60-56, and they went up double digits 72-62 on a pair of Vander Plas free throws with 2:49 remaining.

Ohio was up double digits early in the game with a 20-10 lead following a Clayton 3-pointer with 11:57 left in the first half. Its biggest lead of the first half was 30-17 on a Carter free throw at the 6:41 mark and later 35-22 on a Sears layup with 4:49 to go.

But the Spartans finished the half strong, cutting their deficit to 42-35 by the break, and that carried over into the second half. Mysta Goodloe put USC Upstate ahead 50-49 on a 3-pointer with 13:12 left, and the game stayed close until Ohio pulled away in the final four minutes.

Bryson Mozone led the Spartans with 18 points, with Jordan Gainey adding 14 points.

Free throws were a huge different in the game. The Bobcats made 26 of 33, while the Spartans were 6 of 6. USC Upstate stayed in it by making 12 of 28 3-pointers, compared to just 7 of 24 by Ohio, though Roderick showed signs of coming out of a slump by going 3 of 6.

Rebounds also were a big factor for the Bobcats, who had a 39-23 advantage on the boards, led by Sears with eight. Vander Plas had seven rebounds and Carter six.

Jalen Breazeale finished with nine points, five rebounds and five assists for USC Upstate.

The Bobcats begin Mid-American Conference play when they host Eastern Michigan at 7 p.m. Dec. 28 at The Convo.

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