Doug Taylor embraces Gavin Block after the Ohio University Bobcats beat the Ball State Cardinals 78-74 in men’s basketball on Saturday, Jan. 26, 2019. Baxter Turain/WOUB

Ohio Men’s Basketball: Gavin Block’s 3-pointer lifts Ohio past Ball State

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ATHENS, Ohio — Gavin Block made the newly rejuvenated Ozone go crazy multiple times throughout a 48-point second half for Ohio, but none bigger than the shot he hit to put the Bobcats up for good.

Ohio brought the ball down the court with under a minute to go down one-point, and Block rose up for his third 3-pointer of the night to give the Bobcats the late lead.

“It’s a presence and you don’t get that all the time in mid-major basketball,” Ohio head coach Saul Phillips said about the Ozone.

Ohio (11-8, 3-4) was able to squeak past Ball State (11-9, 2-5) and sweep the season series with the Cardinals, winning in the Convo 78-74.

Gavin Block, of Ohio University, prepares to drive to the basket. The Ohio University Bobcats beat the Ball State Cardinals 78-74 in men’s basketball on Saturday, Jan. 26, 2019. Baxter Turain/WOUB

Ohio wasn’t however in control the entire night; defensively the Bobcats struggled all night as Tayler Persons had 21 points on 9-of-16 shooting, as he scorched the nets from the outside to keep Ball State up for a majority of the game.

When it became crunch time however, the Bobcats defense stepped up as they forced Ball State into tough shots as they made just one of their last 10 shots, and remained scoreless throughout the final 2:34 of action.

“We kept doing our thing on defense, but they were hitting tough shots,” Jason Carter said. “We always will continue to contest and stay on help side.”

Carter has been one of the most consistent performers in the MAC this season, but today he was held scoreless throughout the entire first half. How did he respond? By scoring Ohio’s first 10 points of the second half.

“I came out tentative and one of our assistants told me at halftime to be aggressive and start attacking,” Carter said.

Antonio Cowart Jr. picked up the slack for Carter offensively in the first half, scoring all 11 of his points on only six first half shot attempts.

Jason Preston was another Bobcat who really picked up his play in the second half as he scored eight points in the second half and made plays for teammates.

‘Jay is just really good at setting people up,” Block said.

Doug Taylor only played 18 minutes because of foul trouble, but Ben Vander Plas responded by playing tough defense on the Ball State bigs and Vander Plas had tied for a game high of 12 rebounds, despite going 0-for-4 from beyond the arc.

“For a young player who shoots the ball well, for them to be productive when the ball isn’t going in speaks volumes,” Phillips said.

Tahjai Teague came into the game averaging 14.9 points-per-game, but the Bobcats were able to keep him to nine points on 12 shot attempts, thanks to the efforts of Taylor and Vander Plas down low.

Teyvion Kirk struggled from the floor, but he made a crucial layup with 3:44 left in the contest to put Ohio back up one point.

Ohio returns to action on Tuesday when they travel to DeKalb to play Northern Illinois — the Huskies beat the Bobcats 72-66 in overtime at the Convo for the opening MAC game for each team.