AKRON — Doug Taylor stood in front of the Ohio bench yelling and pumping his hands up.
The senior forward had just hammered down an ally-oop from Jason Preston, extending Ohio’s lead further. As the bench exploded and coach Saul Phillips ran over to celebrate with Taylor, all seemed right for Ohio.
All was right Saturday afternoon at James A. Rhodes Arena as the Bobcats dismantled rival Akron, 73-49. Behind Taylor’s dunk, a stellar day of shooting and gritty defense, Ohio was able to win its second game in its last three games.
Guards Teyvion Kirk and Jason Preston combined for eight assists, 13 points and just one turnover in the win. Taylor picked up a technical foul late in the second half, but he still finished with 14 points and seven rebounds.
The win gave Ohio (13-15, 5-11 Mid-American Conference) just its third road win of the season and its first since Jan. 12 at Ball State. Over the last month and a half the Bobcats struggled to shoot the ball well and win games, but Saturday was an abnormal output. Instead of a lackluster shooting performance, Ohio finished the game shooting 46 percent, adding to its recent string of strong performances.
On Feb. 2 the Zips came into The Convo on its 50th birthday celebration and ruined the festivities. On Saturday, Ohio defeated the Zips and delivered Phillips first ever win at Akron (15-14, 8-8).
Ohio shot 13-of-28 (46.4 percent) from the field in the first half and found success from beyond the arc, making 6-of-13. Ben Vander Plas shined, knocking down four 3s just in the first half. While the Bobcats shot the ball better than they have most of conference play, Akron struggled. At the half, the Zips were 7of-30 (23.3 percent) from the field.
The Bobcats went on a 10-1 run midway through the first half, extending its lead to 20, which they held going into halftime.
While a first-round bye in the Mid-American Conference Tournament is out of the picture for Ohio, the opportunity to host a first-round game is still achievable. It’s hard to believe after almost a month long of losing that Ohio is still in position for a run in March, but after Saturday’s game the opportunity is still possible.
- Ben Vander Plas finished with 20 points and six 3s.
- Doug Taylor finished with a 14 points, one shy of his season-high against Toledo.
- Ohio held its opponent to under 50 points for the first time this season.
Ohio returns to play Tuesday night in The Convo when it hosts No. 21 Buffalo. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. and can be watched on ESPN+.