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Vander Plas breaks out in big 1st half for Ohio

Sears helps Bobcats hold off Golden Flashes 80-72

ATHENS – Ben Vander Plas hit a career-high six 3-pointers and scored 20 points, while Mark Sears continued his dominant play with 28 points as Ohio topped Kent State 80-72 on Friday night at The Convo.

Vander Plas broke out of shooting slump with a huge first half when he hit five 3-pointers to help the Bobcats (12-2, 3-0 Mid-American Conference) take a 41-26 lead by halftime. Ben Roderick added 13 points, and Jason Carter finished with 10.

Sincere Carry had 26 points, with Malique Jacobs adding 16 points for the Golden Flashes (7-7, 2-2 MAC).

“Our guys got off to a great start and maintained the lead throughout the whole course of the game," Ohio coach Jeff Boals said. "We've let teams back into it. We bend but don't break. We made some big plays down the stretch, and you know, Mark Sears was phenomenal again and BVP's 3s carried us in the first half.”

The first 3-pointer by Vander Plas gave Ohio a 3-2 lead, and it did not trail again. He hit two more in the first 5:08 of the game, and his fourth with 12:09 left in the first half put the Bobcats up 22-10. Vander Plas struck once more before halftime with a shot that capped a 7-0 run for the biggest lead of the game, 39-21.

Vander Plas had made just four of his previous 28 3-pointers in the last five games after shooting close to 50% from long range in the first seven games.

"It's been a rough couple of games," Vander Plas said. "A little bit of a drought, but I kept shooting, and everyone else told me to keep shooting. They were falling tonight, so it felt good to see some go through the hoop."

The final Vander Plas 3-pointer came less than two minutes into the second half, and then, it was up to Sears to help Ohio hold off Kent State. Sears scored a layup with 14:47 remaining to stop an 8-0 Golden Flashes run that had cut the lead to eight.

Three more times, Kent State made it a 10-point game, and each time Sears answered with points during a stretch in which he scored all seven of Ohio’s points.

The Golden Flashes went on an 11-0 run with a Carry 3-pointer cutting Kent State’s deficit to 63-61 with four minutes to go, but again, Sears hit a jumper to help keep the Bobcats in front. A Roderick 3-pointer also was big, putting Ohio ahead 68-63 with 2:55 to go. Kent State got no closer after that.

Vander Plas added six rebounds and five assists to his big game. Carter had a team-high eight rebounds for Ohio, which was without starting guard Miles Brown. Tommy Schmock was in the lineup in his place and finished with five points.

The Bobcats shot 50% for the night, while the Golden Flashes were at just 38.5%, including 23.5% on 3-pointers.

Both Carry and Jacobs had eight rebounds, and Carry added six assists.

Ohio hosts Bowling Green at 7 p.m. Tuesday at The Convo.

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