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Ohio turns to defense to top Western Michigan 59-47

Sears, Carter provide enough offense for Bobcats in MAC opener

KALAMAZOO, Mich. – With its outside shots not falling, Ohio turned to its defense to take a 59-47 victory against Western Michigan in its Mid-American Conference opener Saturday at Read Fieldhouse.

The Bobcats made just 3 of 22 3-pointers but held the Broncos to 33% shooting and forced 20 turnovers.

Mark Sears (21 points) and Jason Carter (17 points) scored enough points on their own to outdo Western Michigan, combining for 48 points. Ben Vander Plas finished with nine points despite 1-of-9 shooting from long range.

"We're feeling good," Carter said. "It's tough to get road wins and we came in here played a good Western Michigan team and got a win."

One of Ohio’s made 3-pointers was a halftime buzzer-beater by Tommy Schmock from halfcourt along the left sideline to make it 28-24. It was the spark the Bobcats needed to begin to pull away.

After a Western Michigan basket to begin the second half, Ohio (10-2, 1-0 Mid-American Conference) scored seven straight beginning with a Carter 3-pointer. Mark Sears added two free throws, and Sears added a basket to extend the Bobcats’ advantage to 35-26.

A short time later, a Vander Plas steal and layup put the Bobcats up by double digits 39-28 with 13:48 to go.

Western Michigan (4-9, 0-2 MAC) only got as close as seven after that, and Ohio’s lead reached 14 at 49-35 on a Miles Brown jumper with 5:56 remaining.

Ohio’s offensive struggles kept it from building much of a lead in the first half. Its biggest spurt was eight straight points to go in front 12-7, but that was the biggest advantage until the second half.

Sears and Carter combined to go 15 of 29 from the field while the rest of the Bobcats were 8 of 34 in their first game in 11 days. The scheduled MAC opener against Eastern Michigan was canceled Tuesday because of COVID issues with the Eagles.

"We gave our guys about four days off, came back worked out," Ohio coach Jeff Boals said. "And then Monday before practice, we found out our Eastern game was postponed. And then we kind of had an inter squad scrimmage on Tuesday. Timing might not have been there and their legs might not have been there, but we're really proud of our guys getting a road win today."

Lamar Norman Jr. was the only Western Michigan player in double figures with 21 points. He was 4 of 9 from 3-point range, with his teammates going 2 of 13. Markeese Hastings had nine points and 14 rebounds.

Ohio had a huge 40-18 advantage in points in the paint and had a 21-5 edge in points off turnovers.

The Bobcats stay on the road to face Akron at 6 p.m. Tuesday on CBS Sports Network.

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