ATHENS, Ohio – Led by another stellar performance from redshirt senior guard Jordan Dartis, the Ohio men's basketball team (5-3) returned to Athens for the first time in two weeks, defeating Detroit Mercy (1-5), 91-81, Saturday afternoon (Nov. 30), inside the Convocation Center.
"We made a couple of adjustment on our ball screen coverage, which I thought helped us," head coach Jeff Boals said. "Give Antoine (Davis) a lot of credit, he is a phenomenal player. We knew he had the capability of going off in the second half and carrying these guys. He did it last year, he did it this year. There's a reason why he's top-10 in the country in scoring. I thought we made some big plays down the stretch. Got the rebounds we needed and most importantly we made the free throws down the stretch that were all big."
Dartis (Newark, Ohio) finished the game with 26 points, going 9-of-15 from the field, 6-of-9 from three-point range and 2-of-3 from the free throw line, while grabbing two rebounds and dishing out an assist. Sophomore guard Jason Preston (Orlando, Fla.) finished the game with 20 points, 12 assists and eight rebounds. Preston went 6-of-13 from the field and 7-of-8 from the free throw line. Redshirt sophomore forward Ben Vander Plas (Ripon, Wis.) finished with 16 points, rebounds and four assists, while graduate transfer Sylvester Ogbonda (Port Harcourt, Nigeria) forward finished with 11 points, eight boards and one block, while going 4-of-5 from the field.
"When I'm open, Coach wants me to shoot it and my teammates want me to shoot it," Dartis said. "They found me when I was open and I just kind of do my job. I haven't felt like that in a little while so it felt great."
As a team, Ohio shot 53 percent from the field, 45 percent from three-point range and 84.6 percent from the free throw line, while Detroit Mercy shot 47.4 percent from the field, 34.3 percent from three-point range and 75 percent from the free throw line. Ohio out-rebounded the Titans, 34-27, while dishing out 18 assists to Detroit Mercy's 10. Ohio also forced 14 turnovers and scored 18 points off of them.
For Detroit Mercy, Antoine Davis finished the game with 33 points, going 5-of-6 from three-point range and dishing out eight assists. Willy Isiani finished with 15 points, while Justin Miller finished with 12 points and five rebounds.
Ohio opened the game on fire, with Dartis scoring 18 points in just over four minutes help Ohio just out to a 24-5 lead entering the first media timeout. Out of the timeout, Vander Plas hit a free throw and freshman forward Ben Roderick (Powell, Ohio) hit a three and a layup to extend the Bobcats' lead to 30-9. After the Roderick five points, freshman center Nolan Foster (Mattawan, Mich.) added four more points, to give Ohio the 34-12 lead with 11:49 left in the first half.
After a layup from Ogbonda, Ohio took a 23-point lead with less than 10 minutes to go in the half, After the Titans cut the lead to 17, points from Preston and Dartis put the Bobcats up 48-23 at the final media timeout of the half. Out of the timeout, Detroit Mercy cut the Bobcats' lead to 16 with an 11-2 run over the final four minutes, sending the game to the half with the Bobcats leading 50-34.
At the half, Ohio shot 57.1 percent from the field, 54.5 percent from three-point range and 100 percent from the free throw line, while Detroit Mercy shot 42.9 percent from the field, 27.8 percent from three-point range and 100 percent from the free throw line.
Detroit Mercy opened the half with the first points of the game before a layup from Preston and a three from freshman guard Lunden McDay (Akron, Ohio) gave the Bobcats a 55-36 lead. The Titans then went on a 5-0 run the cut the Ohio lead to 14 with 15:41 left in the game. After a layup from Ogbonda stopped the run, Detroit Mercy went on a 6-0 run to help cut the Ohio lead to 11 before a Preston three gave the Bobcats a 66-52 lead going into the under-12 media timeout.
Out of the timeout, the Titans cut the Bobcats' lead to nine, before a layup from Vander Plas stopped the run. Detroit Mercy then went on a 10-1 run the would suddenly cut the Ohio lead to 73-71 with 6:10 remaining in the game. The Bobcats brought the lead back to four, however the Titans didn't stop fighting, making it a one-point game with 4:35 left in the game entering the final media timeout.
Out of the timeout, the Bobcats held strong, with Vander Plas scoring Ohio's next six points before Ogbonda hit free throws of his own to give the Bobcats a, 86-76 lead with 1:58 to go. After Preston gave the Bobcats a 13-point lead, the Bobcats and Titans traded free throws down the stretch, with the Bobcats coming away with the 91-81 victory.
Up next, the Bobcats return to action on Wednesday, Dec. 4 when Ohio hosts Rio Grande. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. inside the Convocation Center.