By Mike Ashcraft
Box Score (PDF)
ATHENS, Ohio -- Five players finished in double figures in points as the Ohio men's basketball team (3-2) asserted itself in a dominant 96-77 victory over Mount St. Mary's (2-4) on Friday (Nov. 24) at the Convocation Center.
The Bobcats shot a season-best 54.9 percent (39-of-71) from the field and held the advantage in rebounds (35-28), assists (19-15), steals (8-1), points in the paint (50-39), points off turnovers (23-5), second-chance points (11-8), fastbreak points (8-3) and bench points (20-9). Ohio came out on top in the first-ever meeting with the Mountaineers, who qualified for the NCAA Championship field in 2016-17 by winning the Northeast Conference tournament and achieved a 20-win season.
"This is how we want to play," said fourth-year head coach Saul Phillips. "Beyond that, playing downhill and making good decisions at the rim. So many of our assists came as a result of a jump stop, a ball fake and patience. That's basketball that translates to whoever you're playing against. Doesn't matter if you're playing against an NEC team or a Big Ten team. You play with that poise, good things are going to happen."
The victory improved Ohio to a perfect 12-0 when scoring at least 90 points during the Phillips' era.
Freshman guard Teyvion Kirk (Joliet, Ill.) continued the strong start to his freshman campaign, tallying a career-high 20 points for the second game in a row to tie for the team lead. He shot 7-of-14 from the floor -- including 2-of-3 from beyond the arc -- in addition to sinking four his five free throw attempts. He also matched his career high with six assists to tie for the team lead and grabbed five boards in 32 minutes. Senior guard Mike Laster (Detroit, Mich.) posted his second-straight outing with at least 20 points, matching Kirk for the team lead with 20 after going 9-of-16 from the floor with a pair of threes. He also tallied two rebounds over 36 minutes. Junior guard Jordan Dartis (Newark, Ohio) made 6-of-13 shots -- including three triples -- to notch 15 points. He also finished with two rebounds, two steals and an assist over 30 minutes of work. Junior forward Doug Taylor (Columbus, Ohio) achieved his first career double-double with 14 points and a game-high 11 rebounds. He went 6-of-10 from the field and sank his first three-pointer of the season. He also had a pair of steals in 26 minutes. Freshman guard Zach Butler (Spartanburg, S.C.) finished a perfect 4-of-4 from both the floor and the free throw line to collect a career-high 12 points off of the bench. He also chipped in two rebounds, two assists and a steal in 20 minutes of action. Junior guard/forward Gavin Block (Lincoln, Ill.) logged seven points and matched Kirk for the team lead with six assists. He also totaled six rebounds and a steal in 34 minutes. Redshirt sophomore guard James Gollon (Stevens Point, Wis.) provided six points, a career-high four assists, two rebounds and a career-high two steals in 16 minutes off of the bench.
"We're down some people, but we're making it work," said Laster of Ohio, which currently has four injured forwards on its roster. "We've got a lot of guards, but we've got a lot of big guards who can do a lot of things that some of our bigs do."
Mount St. Mary's scored the game's first points on a layup by sophomore center Ryan Gomes and held a 7-5 lead after a triple by freshman forward Bobby Planutis with 17:37 left in the first half. That's the last time the Mountaineers held the lead, as an and-one layup by Taylor gave the Bobcats a 12-9 edge with 15:18 to go in the half, and Ohio led for the final 36:19 of the contest. A trey by Dartis with just over 11 minutes remaining in the opening half made it 25-13 in favor of the Bobcats, and Ohio never led by less than double digits the rest of the way. The Bobcats led by as many as 23 with 15:05 to play after a layup by Gollon. A jumper in the paint by senior forward Sam Frayer (Cincinnati, Ohio) put an exclamation point on the victory for Ohio.
"It's why we play," said Taylor of Ohio's performance. "We had five guys in double digits tonight, so everybody eats. It's Thanksgiving. It's the most fun when you see your brothers having a good time, too."
The Mountaineers fell despite a big performance by senior guard Junior Robinson, who achieved a double-double with a game-high 21 points and 10 assists. He also finished with five rebounds in 40 minutes of work. Redshirt freshman guard Jonah Antonio added 19 points and a team-high seven rebounds to go along with a blocked shot over 40 minutes on the floor. Gomes went 7-of-9 from the floor to finish with 14 points and also blocked a game-high two shots in 24 minutes. He also had two assists and a rebound.
Ohio plays host to a 2017 NCAA Championship field qualifier for the second game in a row when Iona (1-4) visits the Convo next Tuesday (Nov. 28) for a 7 p.m. ET contest to close out the first month of the 2017-18 schedule.