Ohio Men’s Basketball: Hot Shooting Leads Ohio Past Kent State in MAC Quarterfinals< < Back to
CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOUB) — The Bobcats walked off the court on Thursday at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse in a good mood to the tune of loud cheers from close friends and family up the concourse seating.
There was a sense of joy, a sense of celebration and a sense of hope buzzing through the arena.
For the first time since 2017, four years and two days to be exact, Ohio men’s basketball picked up a victory in Cleveland.
In a game that felt like it was all Bobcats, Ohio (14-7) dominated on the offensive end to knock off fourth-seeded Kent State (15-8).
“I’m really proud of our guys,” Ohio head coach Jeff Boals said. “I thought they came out and competed for 40 minutes, especially based on what happened in the first game we had against Kent State. I thought they controlled the whole tempo of the game.”
The first game Boals referred to was the Jan. 16 meeting in Athens, where the Golden Flashes took down Ohio, 89-79, thanks to dominating play from Danny Pippen and Michael Nuga.
Both Pippen and Nuga did not play on Thursday, which had a huge impact on the game.
Ohio’s offense came out in the first half on fire — shooting over 68 percent while, defensively, holding Kent State to just 29 percent shooting.
After leading by a dozen at the half, Ohio stepped on the accelerator even more in the second half and put the game out of reach with around 8 minutes left and a 28-point lead. Ohio finished the day shooting 59 percent from the field.
Keep in mind that this was Ohio’s first game in 12 days.
“I honestly didn’t know what to expect [coming into the game],” Boals said. “Our guys’ mindset and resiliency has been excellent all year.”
Ohio had several different players contribute in the points category.
Leading the charge was Jason Preston, who was a perfect 8-of-8 from the field in the game and led all scorers with 19 points.
“I was just picking my spots,” Preston said. “Our team is very unselfish and my teammates did a great job of hitting me in stride and I found a couple of easy baskets around the rim. It was nice to have that kind of day.”
Lunden McDay followed behind with 18 points. Miles Brown came in off the bench and contributed 11 points, while perennial starters Dwight Wilson III and Ben Vander Plas had 10 points apiece.
Ohio had nine players tally points in the ball game.
“Our guys all year have stepped up and performed in situations,” Boals said. “When their number is called to come in, they do a great job. I think the balance of our team and the selflessness of our team has been really key all year long.”
Ohio will return to Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse on Friday to take on top-seeded Toledo at 5 p.m. The Bobcats lost by 17 points to the Rockets in January and look to get revenge to punch their ticket to the MAC title game.
“This is still one out of three [wins],” Preston said. “We came here with much bigger goals and much bigger dreams.”