Ohio Men’s Basketball: Bobcats Win First MAC Tournament Championship Since 2012< < Back to
CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOUB) — The ticket is punched. The Bobcats are going dancing.
For the first time since 2012, the Ohio Bobcats hoisted the MAC Tournament trophy and will be going to the NCAA Tournament.
“Just an unbelievable performance by our guys,” Ohio head coach Jeff Boals said. “I’m a proud coach. I know we made a lot of people in Bobcat nation happy.”
Making the NCAA tournament is an achievement every player dreams of and the Bobcats will get their chance on the big stage.
“It’s just so special,” Ohio junior guard Jason Preston said. “We’ve had this goal. The last couple weeks we were locked in and we really wanted [a championship]. We’re so grateful to be here right now.”
“My dad and my sister both played in the NCAA Tournament,” Ohio redshirt junior Ben Vander Plas said. “It’s their greatest basketball memory. To be able to do it with this team, I’m just so excited.”
Buffalo came in winning four of the last five MAC Tournaments, but on Saturday, it was all about Ohio.
“They were just sharper than us tonight,” Buffalo head coach Jim Whitesell said. “Their defense really bothered us in the first 15 minutes.”
After the Bulls took a lead very early in the ball game, Jason Preston led the Bobcats’ charge and Ohio went to the half with a comfortable 41-21 lead — thanks to 17 first half points from Preston.
Preston was named tournament MVP following three impressive games this week.
“I think [Preston’s] the best player in the league,” Boals said. “He’s going to make a lot of money playing this game some day. He stepped up on the big stage like he did at the start of the year.”
Coming in as the No. 5 seed, Ohio put together and impressive week all together — defeating Kent State, Toledo and Buffalo as the lower seed. All three games were not only victories for the Bobcats, but wins that were achieved pretty handedly.
“I’m not sure there was a more dominant MAC title run in three games in three days,” Boals said. “They bought into unselfishness and we have great pieces.”
Ben Roderick added in 20 points for the Bobcats in the ball game, shooting 6-of-9 from the field. Dwight Wilson III added 17 points. Ohio shot an even 50 percent from the field, including 8-of-15 from three.
In just two seasons at Ohio. Jeff Boals has taken the Bobcats from a mediocre program to the top of the MAC.
“Coach Boals has come in from day one and I knew I wanted to play for him,” Ben Vander Plas said. “He’s a player’s coach and he’ll literally do anything for us.”
Next up, the Bobcats will go to the NCAA Tournament. Ohio is the fourth seed in the West Region and will face the third-seeded Virginia Cavaliers at a to-be-determined date, time and location.