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Rally falls short, Ohio drops 2nd straight game

Sears misses potential game-tying 3-pointer

BOWLING GREEN – A late rally came up short, and Ohio dropped a second game in a row for the first time this season, losing 80-77 to Bowling Green on Saturday at the Stroh Center.

Mark Sears missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer with about six seconds remaining after the Bobcats were down nine with less than 40 seconds remaining. They also trailed by 13 with less than seven minutes to go.

Ben Vander Plas scored 25 points and eight rebounds, while Mark Sears scored 22 points with 13 rebounds and four assists for Ohio (23-7, 14-5 Mid-American Conference). Ben Roderick scored 14 points, hitting some key late 3-pointers to get the Bobcats close.

Ohio shot just 34.7% overall, going 13 of 41 (31.7%) from long range, while Bowling Green (13-7, 6-13 MAC) finished the game at 50%.

Daeqwon Plowden and Matiss Kulackovskis had 18 points each for the Falcons.

Despite its shooting struggles, the Bobcats led 35-31 at halftime and went up by seven on a Vander Plas 3-pointer, but the Falcons followed with an 11-0 run to take the lead. Sears scored to snap Ohio’s scoreless streak, only for Bowling Green to score seven in a row as part of a bigger 18-2 run.

"The first 2-3-4 minutes of the first half and the first five minutes the second half, that was the ballgame," Ohio coach Jeff Boals said. "You know, if we would have won, probably wouldn't have deserved to win the game. We've got off to slow starts in all three losses. And you know, collectively, we got to figure that out. But our guys battled back, but the game like this, you can't give confidence early."

The Falcons later took their biggest lead 63-50 on a Plowden free throw, but the Bobcats got back in it with a quick 12-0 run that included a pair of Roderick 3-pointers.

Plowden hit a pair of free throws with 3:56 to go to make it a three-point game and then blocked a Vander Plas layup attempt on the other end. Jason Carter recovered the loose ball, was bumped and traveled. Carter was called for a technical foul arguing and then immediately picked up another and was ejected. Plowden hit three of four free throws to make it 68-62 with 3:41 to play.

Another Roderick 3-pointer made it 70-67 with 1:50 to go, but Plowden scored another big basket on the other end, and after Mark Sears missed two attempts for Ohio, Kulackovskis threw down a dunk to put the Falcons up seven. Samari Curtis extended the lead to 76-67 with 39 seconds remaining.

Sears scored two free throws, and after a Bowling Green turnover, knocked down a 3-pointer to make it a four-point game with 28 seconds left. Following a Trey Diggs free throw, Miles Brown connected from the corner to get Ohio to within 77-75 with 14 seconds left.

Josiah Fulcher split two free throws with 11 seconds left, setting up Sears’ attempt to tie the game. It was off the mark, and Curtis put away the game with two more free throws in the closing seconds.

Bowling Green jumped out early in the game to a 13-3 lead, but Ohio scored 10 straight to tie the game. The Bobcats pushed out to a six-point lead before settling on a four-point advantage at the break.

While Roderick showed signs of coming out of a season-long slump, Tommy Schmock went just 1 of 9 from long range. Sears was just 2 of 8.

The Bobcats stayed in the game despite their poor shooting by grabbing 20 offensive rebounds and forcing 16 turnovers to get more opportunities.

Curtis finished with 16 points, and Diggs had 13 for the Falcons.

With the loss, Ohio was eliminated from the chance of winning the MAC regular season title, now trailing Toledo (16-3 MAC) by two games with one to go. The Rockets clinched at least a share, while Kent State (15-4 MAC) took over sole possession of second place in the standings. Buffalo (13-5 MAC) trails Ohio for third by a half game and Akron (13-6 MAC) by one game.

Ohio finishes the regular season with a trip to Northern Illinois at 8 p.m. Friday.

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