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Carter's career-high 27 points lead Ohio past Western Michigan

Sears adds 25 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists

ATHENS – Jason Carter scored a career-high 27 points as Ohio topped Western Michigan 77-64 on Saturday at The Convo.

Carter went 12-for-17 from the field and added 10 rebounds for a double-double. Mark Sears added 25 points, six rebounds and six assists, and Ben Vander Plas had 14 points and 11 rebounds as the Bobcats (19-3, 10-1 Mid-American Conference) established a new best record through 22 games..

“Third game in five days and they were going through the same thing," Ohio coach Jeff Boals said. "We knew it'd be a tough challenge. That team (Western Michigan) plays really hard. They probably should have three wins or four wins. They've been in a lot of games that they haven't been able close them out kind of like this one.”

Winless in MAC play, Western Michigan (4-19, 0-12 MAC) got 30 points from Lamar Norman Jr. and pushed Ohio early, taking a 17-7 lead on a Mileek McMillan jumper.

The Bobcats used a 14-0 run to move in front, starting with a Carter basket and capped by an IJ Ezuma layup. The Broncos tied the game at 35 on a Markeese Hastings 3-pointer and took a 39-37 lead on a Norman jumper, but Sears beat the halftime buzzer with a 3-pointer to put Ohio ahead 40-39.

Western Michigan’s final lead came with 17:04 remaining, making it 46-45, but Carter put the Bobcats in front for good with a 3-pointer. He added back-to-back baskets to put Ohio ahead 52-46, and then after a Norman score, Carter threw down a dunk off of an offensive rebound.

“Just all the credit to my teammates for getting me the ball when I was open," Carter said. "And you know that second-half stretch, I just put my head down and was just really aggressive. And again, I just have great teammates. It allows me to get open and get those shots."

Sears added a pair of free throws and another basket to make it a 10-point game.

Later, a Carter jumper in the paint pushed the Bobcats’ lead to 67-54. Ohio’s biggest lead was 73-58 on a Sears jumper with 4:08 remaining.

After shooting 58.3% in the first half, Western Michigan made just 30.4% of its shots in the second half. Ohio also did not maintain its first-half shooting mark of 56.7% but finished at 49.2% for the game.

The Bobcats forced 16 turnovers and only committed seven and had twice as many offensive rebounds 14-7, leading to 18 more field goal attempts.

McMillan finished with 11 points, while Hastings had a double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds for the Broncos.

With Toledo losing to Ball State on Friday night, Ohio is alone in first place in the MAC and has a chance to add to its lead when it takes on the Rockets at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Savage Arena.

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