Ohio dominates Buffalo as Jeff Boals earns 50th win as Bobcats head coach

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WOUB) – Ohio returned to the national stage Friday night when it made the trip to Buffalo to take on the Bulls in a game with huge stakes in the MAC standings. After a back-and-forth first half, Ohio was finally able to pull ahead late in the opening half and it rode the momentum in the second half to take home the win 74-53.

After last week’s throttling on national television at the hands of the Toledo Rockets, Ohio looked to avenge that loss in a big way, and it did just that. The Bobcats and Bulls were dead locked at 9-9 with 15:45 left in the first half. From there, the Bobcats finally found a rhythm offensively and outscored the Bulls 28-11 to close out the half.

“This win feels really good,” Mark Sears said in a postgame radio interview. “The performance we had against Toledo wasn’t the performance we had hoped for, especially on national television, and to play well (Friday night) on national television, it felt really good to win by 21.”

A huge factor to Ohio’s success Friday night was Ohio’s defense. The Bobcats forced 16 turnovers and held Buffalo’s top three scorers to a combined 22 points, even holding Buffalo’s Josh Mballa scoreless. Jeenathan Williams, who averages 19 points per game, was held in check with just 13 points. Ronaldo Segu was held to just nine points Friday night.

“Early on, our team defense was really good. We got a lot of key stops, and we were able to get out in transition,” Ben Vander Plas said.

While Buffalo’s trio struggled, Ohio’s trio of Ben Vander Plas, Jason Carter, and Mark Sears thrived. Vander Plas finished with a double-double of 12 points and 11 rebounds. Carter finished one rebound shy of a double-double with 16 points and nine rebounds. Sears finished with a team-high 27 points. All in all, the three stars for Ohio single handedly outscored Buffalo 55-53.

Jeff Boals rallies up his team during a timeout in the Bobcats' game against Bowling Green on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022.
Jeff Boals rallies up his team during a timeout in the Bobcats’ game against Bowling Green on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022.

“It felt like a really good night, especially when my teammates got going like Ben Vander Plas and (Jason) Carter,” Sears said.

This win was a huge statement for Ohio. Coming into the game, Ohio was second in the MAC standings and Buffalo was fourth in the standings. The Bobcats only trailed 4-2 to start the game and never trailed after that. In what was nearly a wire-to-wire fashion, Ohio took care of business on the road in a tough conference game, which will be good for their resume come March.

“I think we had a great game plan coming in. We were able to focus on the things that the coaches wanted us to focus on early,” Vander Plas said. “We were able to get the lead and I think everyone could see how Mark (Sears) took off in the second half and got buckets left and right. This win means a lot and it shows how far we have come these last few years.”

With the win on Friday night, Ohio Head Coach, Jeff Boals, earned his 50th win as head coach for the Bobcats. Boals’ 50th win comes at game number 76 in his third season as head coach. As a team, Ohio improves to 7-1 in MAC play and 16-3 overall. The schedule doesn’t let up for the

Bobcats who will play six games in a 12-day stretch starting Tuesday when they play host to Ball State.

“We have a tough stretch coming up where we play six games in 12 days,” Jeff Boals said. “We need to just take it one game at a time, get our rest, get our treatment, and get ready for Ball State on Tuesday.”