Ohio Basketball, Nolan Foster
Nolan Foster had nine points in Ohio’s 90-51 victory over Rio Grande. Photo: Ben Wielgopolski, WOUB visuals

Ohio’s ferocious defense leads to victory

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Athens, OH— After finishing the month of November with a 91-81 victory over Detroit Mercy, the Bobcats looked to start the new month where they left off. Ohio (6-3) welcomed Rio Grande (6-4) to the Convo to start a month long home-stand in December.

Ohio’s performance Wednesday night showcased that they can lean on their defense to win games as the Bobcats beat the Red Storm 90-51.

The game started off closely contested — entering the first media timeout, Ohio held a seven to six lead. However, the first four and a half minutes of play would be the closest the Red Storm got to overtaking the Bobcats. The Ohio defense came to life as they forced four turnovers to help them go on a 12-2 run.

“We were up one maybe the first war and then the second war, the second four minutes we came out and our intensity was a lot better,” head coach Jeff Boals said. “I thought our defensive intensity was really good for the most part.”

Ohio began the takeover as the Bobcats outscored Rio Grande 44-13 following the first media timeout. The Bobcats built themselves a comfortable 51-20 halftime lead.

Ohio’s defense fueled their strong offensive showing. At the end of the first half, Ohio had four steals, forced nine turnovers. 15 of the Bobcats first half points came off of turnovers.

A key contributor to dominating defense was Marvin Price. Price finished the game with three steals, two of which came in the first half. His aggressive defense carried over to the offensive side as he scored 14 points.

“Marv is a score first player and he can really help us on that side,” sophomore guard Jason Preston said. “He’s aggressive too.”

Both teams came out firing on offense to begin the second half. The Red Storm’s shooting leaped from 29% in the first half to 41% in the second half. Ohio shot a steady 52 percent in the second half and outscored Rio Grande 39-31. Ohio finished the game with eight steals and 17 forced turnovers.

Offensively, the Bobcats were living in the paint. Two key players who owned the paint were Ben Vander Plas and Sylvester Ogbonda, who each finished with 14 points — Ogbonda’s 14 points gave him a new career high.

“We have a point guard that probably leads the nation in assists, so you’re going to get the ball and you just have to finish,” Ogbonda said. “It’s not about having anything to prove, it’s just playing again the right way.”

Another key component to the Bobcats offense was Jason Preston. Preston had his fifth double-double of the season with 11 points and 13 assists.

Ohio remains undefeated in the Convo and will look to build on their perfect home record during their month-long home stretch. The Bobcats host Tennessee Tech (3-6) on Sunday with tip-off set for 2 p.m.