Ohio Men’s Basketball: Bobcats have five players in double figures; sneak past NIU

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ATHENS, Ohio — A win is a win.

Northern Illinois fired its head coach Mark Montgomery on Sunday, so that meant Lamar Chapman stepped in as interim head coach.

In Chapman’s first game as the man in charge, the Huskies gave the Bobcats a run for their money.  Northern Illinois had one last chance down three to send the game to overtime, but Darius Beane’s shot at the buzzer hit off the rim and Ohio (6-4, 2-2 MAC) held on against Northern Illinois (1-8, 0-4 MAC) inside the Convocation Center with a 76-73 win.

“We knew it was going to be a tough game,” Ohio head coach Jeff Boals said.  “I think it was right about the ten or 11 point mark in the second half when we kept trading baskets with them for about ten to 12 minutes.  Give them a lot of credit and we found a way to win the game, which is most important.”

Ohio Men's Basketball Ben Roderick
Ohio’s Ben Roderick acknowledges a great pass from his teammate that led to a three-pointer in Ohio’s win over Northern Illinois on Tuesday.

In Jason Preston’s absence, Dwight Wilson III has stepped up as a leader for the Bobcats and once again made an impact on Tuesday.

“I think (Wilson’s) going to continue to grow,” Boals said.  “He’s in a role he’s never been in.  He’s never been that go-to guy.  He’s never played extended minutes and he’s obviously a big part of what we’re doing.  Him and Ben Vander Plas have a good connection going, so we got to keep going to him until (Preston) gets back.  Moving forward, we got to throw the ball inside.”

Wilson led Ohio with 25 points, shooting a stellar 12-of-14 from the field.  Wilson continues to be a threat in the paint as he grabbed eight rebounds, four of which were on the offensive end.

“(Rebounding) was something that got me on the floor at (James Madison University) as a freshman,” Wilson said.  “It’s something that I’ve always been good at since high school.   I’m just trying to make sure that I’m trying to attack the glass.  They tell me to protect the glass more often and get some more offensive rebounds, so that was my focus tonight.”

Wilson was not alone in the scoring category though.  The Bobcats had all five of their starters reach double-digit point totals.  Ben Roderick accounted for 13 points while shooting 5-of-9 from the field.  Ben Vander Plas and Lunden McDay each had 11 points.  Mark Sears, filling in for Preston in the starting lineup, had 10 points, including a big three-pointer with two minutes remaining to extend Ohio’s lead.

“We got different guys that can score in different ways,” Boals said.  “It obviously can help your offense and you can run different things and play off each other.”

Ohio’s next contest is scheduled to be on Friday night at Toledo.  The Rockets currently have a 9-3 record and have a high-powered offense.  Tip-off for that game is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.