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Ohio doomed by another slow start

Zips jump out to 20-point halftime lead, shoot 62.5%

ATHENS – Another slow start doomed Ohio in a 91-83 loss to Akron on Friday night at The Convo.

The Bobcats fell behind 46-26 at halftime, with only a late push making the final score as close as it was.

Mark Sears led Ohio (23-6, 14-4 Mid-American Conference) with 20 points, even rebounds and seven assists. Ben Vander Plas and Jason Carter scored 17 points each, and Tommy Schmock finished with 14 points in the final home game of the season.

“Wish we could have sent those guys out with a win in their last home game here," Ohio coach Jeff Boals said. "The first half was disappointing. I thought they were the more intense team and had more effort the first 20 minutes. We made some mental mistakes. And I didn't think we had a presence defensively the first 20 minutes for them to shoot 64% and we only forced three turnovers. I thought that was a big difference in the game.”

Ali Ali had a huge first half and paced the Zips (19-9, 12-6 MAC) with 22 points. Greg Tribble added 17 points, Mikal Dawson had 15 points, and Enrique Freeman finished with 14 points.

Akron pushed its lead to double digits early at 19-9, and after a Vander Plas 3-pointer made it 21-16, the Zips ripped off 10 straight points before Carter finally scored in the post for Ohio. Akron added more to its lead in the first half in which it made 18 of 28 shots.

"I think we've seen it the whole year," Vander Plas said. "It's kind of the trend. If we come out at the start of the game, swinging, playing physical and taking teams out of what they want to do, we're able to jump off to that that quick 10-12 point lead. And we did a pretty good job the entire year holding on to that. The games that we kind of back down to start, the other teams do that to us. Obviously, those games haven't turned out the way that we want. So I think that's probably going to be the biggest focus for us moving forward for the rest of the season."

Ohio never really threatened to get back in it in the second half, trailing still by 20 with less than two minutes remaining.

The Bobcats heated up to 57.1% shooting in the second half, but the Zips finished the entire game at 62.5% despite going just 4 of 15 on 3-pointers. They were 26 of 33 inside the arc.

Ohio plays Bowling Green at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Stroh Center.

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