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Vander Plas has career-high 30 as Ohio tops Miami

Bobcats continue dominance of rival RedHawks

ATHENS – Ben Vander Plas scored a career-high 30 points to lead Ohio to a 91-78 victory against Miami on Tuesday night at The Convo.

After sitting out the second half of Saturday’s game with an ankle injury, Vander Plas went 9 of 12 from the field, including 3 of 6 from 3-point range, and made 9 of 10 free throws. He added 10 rebounds, six assists, three steals and a block.

Mark Sears also had a double-double with 23 points and 11 rebounds in addition to six assists, and Tommy Schmock had another huge game off the bench with 18 points that included making 4 of 7 3-pointers. The Bobcats (22-4, 13-2 Mid-American Conference) beat the RedHawks (11-14, 5-9 MAC) for the sixth straight time and the 19th time in the last 22 meetings.

Despite those big performances in the end, Ohio started slow, and Miami built an early lead in the game, taking a 24-16 lead on the third Myja White 3-pointer of the first half. Later, a Mekhi Lairy fastbreak layup gave the RedHawks a 35-26 lead with 5:58 left in the first half.

Vander Plas then sparked a game-tying 9-0 Ohio run, starting with a 3-pointer. He added four free throws before his steal led to a Ben Roderick layup to make it 35-35.

“We got off to a slow start,” Ohio coach Jeff Boals said. “[Myja] White, I think he was averaging two points, maybe coming in, hit three threes there in the first 9-10 minutes. And we were down 10 at some point. Our defense really picked up from that point on from the 11-minute mark to halftime and we got off to a good start in the second half, which is what we wanted to do. We're leading by three at the end of the first war and just kind of kept extending it, war by war by war and finish it out with a win."

The teams went to halftime tied at 39, and Miami held its final lead of the game on a Dalonte Brown 3-pointer to put it up 47-44. Vander Plas connected on a 3-pointer of his own to tie the game, and Ohio went up for good on a Miles Brown 3-pointer.

The RedHawks hung close for a while, with a Dae Dae Grant trey cutting the deficit to 58-56 with 12:52 remaining, but the Bobcats began to pull away after that with back-to-back 3-pointers by Brown and Schmock. A Mark Sears basket pushed the lead to double digits, and a short jumper by Schmock capped a 10-0 run and made it 68-56 with nine minutes remaining.

From there, the margin remained between eight and 12 points until a pair of Roderick free throws to put it at 13 at the end.

Grant led the RedHawks with 22 points, with Lairy adding 18 points and six assists. Isaiah Coleman-Lands and White both reached double digits in scoring with 12 and 11 points, respectively.

With Jason Carter sitting out, IJ Ezuma made his first career start, making both shots he attempted and finishing with five points and two rebounds in 18 minutes.

The teams played before a huge weeknight crowd of 7,990 in Athens, where the Bobcats are now 14-1.

"What an awesome, phenomenal crowd tonight," Ohio coach Jeff Boals said. "The student section was absolutely incredible. And you know, there's no better atmosphere. I've said it from day one. And to see the fans turnout, community turnout, the students, the band, dance cheer, you know, just that's what this environment is all about and it really helped us. They got loud and I got into it. We had a couple of recruits here. And that always helps with recruiting because we talk about it and then once they see it, that was huge.”

With Toledo losing to Kent State, Ohio moved back atop the MAC standings.

The Bobcats hit the road to face Kent State at 7 p.m. Friday on CBS Sports Network.

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