[Bryan Kurp | WOUB]

Ohio Men’s Basketball continues dominance over Miami (OH) behind 30 points from Vander Plas

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ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB) – The Ohio Bobcats and Miami RedHawks squared off for the 210th time in the Battle of the Bricks Tuesday night and going into the game, Ohio had won 18 of the last 21 meetings. The Bobcats flexed their muscles and continued their dominance in the series, defeating Miami 91-78.

Miami came out shooting lights out from the field and got scoring from some of their depth players. Myja White came into the game averaging four points per game but managed to score 11 in the first nine minutes of the game. The RedHawks led by as many as nine in the first half before Ohio clawed their way back to tie it at 39 before the half.

“I thought (Miami) played with a better pace offensively. They switched some things up because of our coverage defensively, which we adjusted,” head coach Jeff Boals said. “They have a lot of pride.”

Dae Dae Grant and Mekhi Lairy led the charge for Miami. Grant led the RedHawks in scoring with 22 points. Lairy put up 18 points, including 11 in the second half. Miami kept it within reach for much of the second half, but Ohio’s high-powered offense eventually found a rhythm and ran away with it.

Ohio's Ben Vander Plas (5) prepares to make a pass to Mark Sears in the second half of the Bobcats' game against Miami (OH) on Feb. 15, 2022.
Ohio’s Ben Vander Plas (5) prepares to make a pass to Mark Sears in the second half of the Bobcats’ game against Miami (OH) on Feb. 15, 2022.

Ben Vander Plas could not be contained by the Miami defense. BVP finished Tuesday night’s contest with a career-high 30 points on 9-of-12 shooting. He also played well on the defensive end with ten rebounds and three steals. On top of that, BVP got his teammates involved and dished out six assists.

“He was phenomenal. I think he really controlled the game on both the defensive and offensive end,” Boals said. “We didn’t know if he was going to play. He tweaked his ankle against Eastern (Michigan) and didn’t practice the last couple of days.

Ohio was also without starting forward Jason Carter due to injury, which made Vander Plas’ performance that much more impressive in the eyes of Boals.

“To come in and do what he did with Jason Carter out, that’s what fifth-year seniors do. That’s what winners do, and he did it,” Boals said.

After being limited to just five points in the first half, Mark Sears exploded in the second half with 18 points. Sears also finished with a team-high 11 rebounds and dished out six assists. The duo of Vander Plas and Sears combined for 53 of Ohio’s 91 points and 12 of the team’s 14 assists on the night.

“It was obvious they couldn’t guard Ben (Vander Plas) in the post, so we really just wanted to expose the mismatch all day long. That opened it up for me in the second half,” Mark Sears said.

Like Miami, Ohio also found depth scoring with Tommy Schmock who came off the bench for the Bobcats. Schmock scored 18 points and was a big reason why Ohio was able to blow the

Mark Sears (1) looks towards the OU student section following a made three pointer in the second half of Ohio's game against Miami (OH) on Feb. 15, 2022.
Mark Sears (1) looks towards the OU student section with a smile following a made three pointer in the second half of Ohio’s game against Miami (OH) on Feb. 15, 2022.

game open in the second half. Schmock and Miles Brown hit three three-pointers to give Ohio an eight-point lead with 12 minutes left in the game, which Ohio just continued to build on as the night went on.

The Bobcats outscored Miami 52-39 in the second half thanks to an explosive 55% shooting percentage from the field in the second half. With the win, Ohio improves to 22-4 on the season and 13-2 in MAC play. With a Toledo loss to Kent State on Tuesday night, Ohio now sits alone atop the MAC standings with five games remaining.

“We’re playing for first place every night,” Ben Vander Plas said. “Obviously, the Miami rivalry is fun, so it gives us some extra juice.”

More importantly, Ohio will have a few days off before taking on the Golden Flashes in Kent. The Bobcats completed a brutal stretch where they played seven games in 15 days. Now, Ohio has a few days for some much-needed rest to regroup and rest before their game against Kent State on Friday. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.

“I think this time of year, it’s about being mentally and physically fresh,” Boals said.