Jordan Dartis Bobcats Basketball
Jordan Dartis (35) pulls up to shoot during the Bobcats’ 88-50 win over Heidelberg on November 9, 2019. PHOTO: Ben Weilgopolski/WOUB

Ohio Men’s Basketball: Dartis’ Hot Shooting Helps Bobcats Overcome Turnover Bug in Win Over EMU

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ATHENS, OH — With less than a minute to play and the Bobcats up just three points, Lunden McDay stood in the corner in front of his bench as the shot clock bled down under eight seconds. 

Ben Vander Plas had just given a good shot fake to be able to drive the lane but was cut off at the free throw line. Instead of forcing up a shot, Vander Plas tossed a no-look pass out to McDay in the corner.

Without hesitation, the true freshman launched a three and sank it.

On a night dominated by the three-point shooting of fifth-year senior Jordan Dartis, it was McDay that hit the clutch shot that spurred the Bobcats (9-6, 1-1 MAC) to a 74-68 win over Eastern Michigan (10-5, 0-2 MAC) on Tuesday night in the Convo.

“I just shot it. I knew it was going to be good,” McDay said.

It was one of those kinds of nights for the ‘Cats. They tied their season-high for made three-pointers in a game, shooting 13-of-27 from long distance. Dartis did the most damage, making eight 3s in the game, two short of his career-best. 

“When the ball is moving like that, and my feet are set and I have a wide-open look,” Dartis said. “It’s a shot I’ll shoot every time.”

Dartis, who had a game-high 26 points, propelled the Bobcats through entire stretches of the game with his ability to hit from long range. His first three shots of the game all came from beyond the arc and he hit all of them to help give Ohio an early lead.

To start the second half, after the ‘Cats had squandered an eight-point halftime lead, Dartis knocked down another trio of threes in just over three minutes to help get Ohio back out to a nine-point lead with 12 minutes to play.

“When teams play zone, (Dartis) going to find an open area. More importantly, our guys are going to find him,” Boals said. “They’re in the huddle talking about ‘he’s got the hot hand – feed him, feed him, feed him’. We trust him, he’s an elite shooter.”

‘Elite shooter’ is a great way to describe Dartis. With his eight makes from long range on Tuesday night, he moved passed D.J. Cooper for second on Ohio’s list of made threes in a career. Dartis now has 277, just 13 behind the leader, Nick Kellogg.

But he doesn’t pay attention to that.

“My mom does, though – at her dentist’s office. They have a big counter and they take (names) off every time,” Dartis said. “I thought that was pretty cool.”

“It’s about winning games, though. I’ll look back at the end and enjoy, but we still got to win MAC games,” he added.

Outside of the stellar three-point shooting, the game was the kind of game that will drive a coach mad for long stretches. The Bobcats and Eagles combined to turn the ball over 43 times (22 for Eastern Michigan, 21 for Ohio). Both teams set new season-high marks for turnovers and turned the ball over on 28 percent of their total possessions in the game.

For Ohio, the turnovers often came in bunches. In the first 11 minutes of the game, the ‘Cats coughed the ball up nine times before settling in to only commit two turnovers in the final nine minutes. 

In the second half, the Bobcats committed four turnovers in their first five possessions over the course of two and a half minutes but tightened up for a stretch before the turnover bug bit again with eight minutes to play when they turned the ball over four times in seven trips up the floor.

“You can’t simulate (EMU’s) length and size. It might look like a gap or opening is there, then you throw it and there’s two hands there to deflect it,” Boals said. “I don’t think I’ve ever been a part of a game with that many turnovers.”

The Bobcats defense was able to respond, however, by grabbing a season-high 22 takeaways from the Eagles. Eight of those takeaways came directly following a Bobcats turnover, effectively nullifying the lost possession.

The Bobcats had four more players in double figures outside of Dartis. McDay finished with 13 points and two rebounds in his 29 minutes on the floor, but his coach sees his impact outside of the stat sheet as well.

“He made some huge, ‘game-winning’ plays. Obviously, the corner three was big, but he got some loose balls, got his hand on a rebound that we ended up getting,” Ohio head coach Jeff Boals said. “I think he’s a glue guy, X-factor for us.”

Jason Preston came alive in the second half to help push the ‘Cats to victory, scoring 12 of his 13 points in the final 12 minutes. He also finished with six rebounds, six assists and 3 steals.

Nolan Foster had his first double-digit performance against a division one opponent of his young career, finishing with 10 points on 5-of-6 shooting. Vander Plas also totaled 10 points on the night but filled his stat line with seven rebounds and six assists to go along with the scoring.

Connor Murrell also received high praise from his teammates and coach following the game. He only scored two points on the night, but also grabbed eight rebounds and dished out five assists in just his second game of the season.

“He just hustles, he scores, he gets rebounds. When he makes plays, everyone is so happy,” McDay said. “It’s just fun watching him play. He does everything, honestly.”

With the first conference win their belt, the Bobcats face one of the biggest tests the MAC has to offer this season when they take on Bowling Green to take on the Falcons on Saturday. Bowling Green was the voter’s pick in the preseason to win the MAC come march and have started conference play 1-1, coming off of a win over Miami.

That game is set to tip-off from the Convo on Saturday at 1 p.m.