Ohio Basketball Jason Preston
Ohio’s Jason Preston (0) drives in the Bobcats’ game against Kent State during the 2019-20 season.

Ohio Men’s Basketball: Twelve Bobcats score, Ohio takes Game One of 2020-21 Season

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Not even a week after learning about their schedule, the Ohio Bobcats Men’s Basketball team played its season opener against the Chicago State Cougars in Champaign, Ill.

Something that head coach Jeff Boals and his coaching staff were assessing in their first game of the 2020 season was how much of a factor the Bobcats new transfers and freshmen would be and how much depth the group had. Well, coach Boals was for the most part happy with his team’s performance as 12 different Bobcats registered points and the new faces were a factor in the Bobcats 84-61 victory over the Cougars.

“Our goal after today was to be 1-0 and we did that,” said Boals.  “I thought we did a lot of really good things. We shot 58% from the field and 42% from three. We got some valuable minutes for our freshman and new guys and they’re going to continue to get better and better as the year goes on.”

Four of the 12 Bobcats who scored in the game were in double figures. Sophomore Lunden McDay was the leading scorer for the Bobcats as he finished with 15. McDay, who earned a spot on the MAC All-Freshman team last year, has become one of the key players for the Bobcats that can be relied upon in pretty much any situation according to Coach Boals.

“Like last year, he was so consistent, and I think this year he’s playing with a lot more confidence,” he said.  “He can drive the basketball, he can shoot the basketball, he’s an unbelievable defender for us and one of those guys you feel really comfortable with when he’s on the floor.”

Ben Vander Plas and Jason Preston, the two Bobcats who earned preseason All-MAC honors, both finished with 11 points. Preston also registered 8 assists and 6 rebounds.

The Bobcats had six new players get playing time in the game, with all of them making an impact in their own departments. Dwight Wilson III, a 6’8 forward who transferred from James Madison, was dominant in the low post as he notched 10 points and grabbed seven rebounds in his first contest as a Bobcat with three of those being offensive rebounds.

“He’s a guy you can throw the ball to in the block, he can score down there, create a double team,” Boals said.  “He’s just such a strong kid rebounding wise and it’s great seeing him down there and he’ll continue to get better and better as the year goes on as well.”

Mark Sears, a freshman guard, scored seven points in 11 minutes, while Sam Towns logged 20 minutes and finished with four points and four rebounds. Jalen White also added five points as he knocked down a three-pointer in the second half. Rifen Miguel, a transfer from Tallahassee Community College who was originally from Angola, grabbed four rebounds on the night.

The Bobcats scored by committee in the first half as nine different players registered points. They came out firing from beyond the arc, as the first points of the season came off a Ben Roderick three. Lunden McDay nailed two-straight three-pointers near the midway mark of the half to give the Bobcats a seven-point lead. They would end up shooting 41.7 percent from beyond the three-point line in the half as well as shooting 56 percent from the field. They did struggle at the free-throw line, only going 8/14. As for Chicago State, they had a hard time knocking down shots in the first half. They shot just 30.3 percent from the field and only 21.4 percent from three. Andrew Lewis was the leading scorer for the Cougars as he registered 10 in the first. The score was 41-29 at the break.

The Bobcats ran away with the game in the second half. The Bobcats outscored the Cougars 21 to four over the first 7 minutes of the half, going three for three from beyond the arc in that span. The Bobcats would build up a lead by as much as 30 points in the second half as every single player that dressed today ended up getting time. Chicago State struggled with discipline as they allowed the Bobcats to have 33 free throw attempts, with the Bobcats making 20 of those, as well as shooting from beyond the arc, as the Cougars were 4-20 from three, while the Bobcats were 42.1% for the game. The Cougars also had four players in double figures with Lou Demuth leading the way with 12 points.

The Bobcats have a short rest ahead as they take on North Carolina A&T at 3 p.m on Thanksgiving Day, before wrapping up this three-game event when they take on the eight-ranked Illinois Fighting Illini, Friday at 1 p.m.

Ohio Men's Basketball Jason Preston
Ohio’s Jason Preston (0) pulls up for a three against Buffalo during the 2019-20 season.