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Ben Vander Plas, forward, of Ohio University, scores against Central Michigan on February 22, 2022, at the Convocation Center in Athens, Ohio.

Men's Basketball: Tommy Schmock, Ben Vander Plas propel Ohio past Central Michigan

Tommy Schmock had plenty of time. After catching a pass from Ben Vander Plas, the senior didn't wait more than a second before he made his move. With ample room between him and the closest Central Michigan defender, Schmock sprang up and snapped his wrist.

The guard pedaled back toward the half court line as he watched his 3-point attempt swished through the net.

Schmock's seventh 3-pointer of the night wasn't Ohio's go-ahead basket over Central Michigan — it had held the lead for most of the game. Neither was it a shot that broke Ohio out of a scoring drought.

What Schmock's basket indicated, however, was the collective performance that Ohio needed.

"I think we really established ourselves inside-out," Schmock said.

Schmock's career-high 23-points and dominance beyond the arc propelled Ohio to a 76-50 rout of Central Michigan inside The Convo on Tuesday night. It was a win Ohio yearned for. After it was dismantled on the road by Kent State last Friday, Ohio was looking for a game to pull itself together. It had been slow on the draw for much of its February schedule, and it hadn't held a halftime lead in five games before Tuesday.

But the Bobcats (23-5, 14-3 Mid-American Conference) finally woke up. They were aggressive from the jump, fighting at the boards and sprinting to break away in transition. A sluggish, stagnant offense that set in over the last month was reworked. The Bobcats spread the Chippewas out and kept the ball moving. While the Chippewas tried to clamp down, the Bobcats prodded at holes in the defense and capitalized on open looks.

"We were just trying to make all the right, easy, simple decisions," Ben Vander Plas said. "When you're hitting shots like that and the ball is moving like that, it's hard to defend. So, we stuck to the plan, I think, throughout the entirety of the game."

Vander Plas split the glory with Schmock on Tuesday. He'd scaled back on field goal attempts and instead opted to fight for rebounds and feed the ball to his teammates. He played selflessly, and his performance — 10 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists — was good for the fourth triple-double in program history.

It wouldn't have been possible without Schmock. Four of Vander Plas' assists came thanks to Schmock's career night. The two played off each other, and the duo prospered thanks to that dynamic.

"I was just like, 'Tommy's out there somewhere at 40 feet. I'll find him. He's probably gonna make it,'" Vander Plas said.

For the first time in a long time, the Bobcats feel refreshed. After a backlogged February schedule crammed with quick turnover between games and little recovery time, they are back in a groove.

"They're in the thick of things and competing for a championship," Ohio coach Jeff Boals said. "They've done a great job all year responding, and they're resilient ... I thought we looked fresh mentally and physically."

It's come at the right time. There's less than two weeks until the regular season wraps up, and then the Bobcats are headed to Cleveland for the MAC Tournament. After the loss to Kent State last Friday, the Bobcats were left dazed and looking for a cure. They needed a shot in the arm to pick themselves up during the final stretch.

As it turns out, a blowout win over Central Michigan is just what the doctor ordered.

@thejackgleckler

jg011517@ohio.edu

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