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Head coach Jeff Boals cheers during a conference game against Central Michigan University at the Convo on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020.

Men's Basketball: The defining moments of Ohio’s season

Admittedly, this list feels incomplete.

Who knows what other moments could have potentially been on here had the Mid-American Conference Tournament not been canceled because of the coronavirus, or COVID-19.

Ohio, like every other team in the nation, is now sitting at home away from the court and wondering what could have been. Could the Bobcats have beaten Akron and have a decent shot to the championship?

Unfortunately, these are questions that Ohio won’t get the answers to. And while there are plenty of thoughts about what could have been, there’s reason to analyze what was.

This wasn’t the ending that Ohio and its fans deserved. It wasn’t the ending any team and its fans deserved. However, it was the one it was dealt. Even with the sour ending, there were still more positives in retrospect under coach Jeff Boals in his first season at Ohio.

And with that, here are the top five moments from the Bobcats’ 2019-20 season.

Jason Preston

Not a singular moment defines exactly what Preston meant to Ohio this season. That’s because every moment he was on the court defined what he meant. The 6-foot-4-inch sophomore guard was instrumental in the Bobcats season.

He averaged 16.8 points per game, 6.4 rebounds per game and 7.4 assists per game. He commanded Ohio’s offense whether he had the ball in his hands or not. Preston’s ability to find an open player which would set Ohio up for a successful offensive possession is perhaps what stood out most. 

Preston made the hard passes look like basic fundamentals. When Ohio needed him most, he delivered. His performance in the final minutes at Miami on March 6, 2020, where he scored seven points to help the Bobcats win might be his most impressive feat of the season. That includes posting several double-doubles, a triple-double and having the second-most total assists in the nation with 238.

A new 3-point king

Jordan Dartis, like seniors across the country, didn’t get the ending to a career he deserved.

Dartis, a fifth-year who came back after missing a season because of injury, was the one player that had much experience in Division I basketball at the start of the season for Ohio.

His recovery from hip surgery paid off when his name was announced in The Convo as a starter multiple times this season. But the largest payoff happened after he set the record for most 3-pointers in a career for Ohio.

His 291st 3-pointer happened on the left wing in the opening moments of the Bobcats’ blowout win over Miami on Feb. 8. Dartis finished his career with 314 career 3-pointers.

Strong start to new era

It’s well known that Boals calls Ohio his dream job. At the start of the season, it easily could’ve turned into a nightmare: a roster filled with unknowns in the form of seven freshmen, players coming back from injury, the challenge of establishing a culture and a new system. 

There were also growing pains: a four-game losing streak in the midst of conference play, an inability to finish games.

But it all was pushed to the side with a final record of two games above .500. Every player, besides Dartis and Sylvester Ogbonda, returns next season. The MAC’s upper teams from this season featured senior-heavy lineups, and now it’s set to be Ohio’s turn.

Madness at Millett

Ohio was in the midst of a 10-point deficit to Miami with 3:47 left in the game.

Rather than panic and call it a game, it rallied and found ways to win. Preston scored seven points to bring the game to a 63-63 tie with 1:56 left.

Freshman Miles Brown scored the final four points for Ohio, including a putback opportunity for the game winner in the Bobcats 67-65 win over the RedHawks.

The win secured Ohio a home game for the first round of the MAC Tournament, but it also showed the growth that the young roster had made from the beginning of conference play to the end.

Blowout win and a ticket to Cleveland

In what’s now its final moment of the season, Ohio’s 85-65 win over Central Michigan in the first round of the MAC Tournament will stand as one of the Bobcats’ best wins of the season.

They opened the game with an offensive aggression that resulted in a lopsided 27-9 run in the game’s first 10:50. All of Ohio’s offensive talent was showcased throughout the game.

Preston was nearly unstoppable from anywhere on the court. Ben Vander Plas in the paint was a force to reckon with. Jordan Dartis shot 75% from beyond-the-arc in his final game in The Convo.

The win gave Ohio its first trip to Cleveland for the first time since 2017.


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