Ohio bucked its losing streak and secured its first win in the Mid-American Conference this season with a victory at Ball State on Saturday. Despite Jason Preston sitting out due to injury, the Bobcats held strong against the Cardinals and left Muncie with a win.
Here are the numbers to know following Ohio’s 78-68 victory against Ball State:
Ben Roderick has so far been a supporting player this season, sitting out of the spotlight and acting as a catalyst for his teammates’ strong performances. Saturday, however, belonged to him. Six 3-pointers on nine attempts against Ball State were the highlight of Roderick’s 20-point game, his highest-scoring game since North Carolina A&T in November.
Roderick has 83 total points this season following Saturday’s game, the fifth-best total on Ohio’s offense.
It’s expected that a team’s starting five will outperform the reserves, but the core of the Bobcats carried the weight of the game on their backs. Every single one of Ohio’s starting lineup pulled double figures against the Cardinals, the only time that has happened this season. The only other player to score for Ohio was Miles Brown, who had a layup in the closing minutes of the game.
The absence of Jason Preston has left a sizable hole in Ohio’s offensive power, but Saturday showed that the Bobcats are capable of keeping the ship steady while he is out.
A team’s offense is dependent on the accuracy of shots taken, and Ohio managed to steady its aim after its losing streak left plenty to be desired. The Bobcats pulled out a 55.4 shooting percentage from the field, its most accurate game since it faced Purdue Northwest. Against opponents like Marshall, Akron and Bowling Green, Ohio was shooting less than 43% from the field.
Thanks to Roderick’s six 3s, the Bobcats scraped together a reasonable 7-for-18 when shooting beyond the line. Without Roderick, Ohio suffered with a pitiful 1-for-9, the only other 3-pointer made by Ben Vander Plas.
Jeff Boals is regarded for his impeccable ability to find the players best suited to fit his team’s needs, and his efforts for this season have already begun bearing fruit. Mark Sears, who was selected to replace Jason Preston in the starting lineup for the second game in a row, has stepped up to give Ohio the talent expected out of its freshman class.
Sears racked up 18 points against the Cardinals, second only to Ben Roderick and matching him in shooting percentage from the field. Sears has been a highlight among the freshman class, totaling 6.4 points per game and 51 points in his eight games played. The guard has shown what he can do from his first days as a Bobcat and is only one bright spot in Ohio’s strong rotation of underclassmen.
The win against Ball State was in many aspects the perfect way to ring in the new year. It was the Bobcats’ first win on the road, first win in the MAC and the end to a frustrating losing streak. The Bobcats have a long few months ahead of them, but that also means plenty of time to improve their conference record.
Winter break isn’t over yet, but Ohio can say it started 2021 on a positive note.