Doubling up

Ohio sophomore guard Jason Preston (right) drives past Heidelberg’s Seth Hohman during the Bobcats’ 88-50 win on Saturday, Nov. 9, 2019 inside the Convocation Center.

Note: This recap appears in the Sunday, Nov. 10 newspaper on Page B1.

Jeff Boals did what a coach is supposed to do after games like this.

He talked about how he liked his team’s ability to respond after what he called ‘slow’ starts to each half. He was thrilled about the Bobcats’ ability to share the basketball. And he cautioned several times about all the work Ohio has to do yet.

But one week into his first season as Ohio University’s head coach, Boals has to be thrilled with what he’s seen from the Bobcats so far.

Ohio capped that first week on Saturday afternoon with a runaway 88-50 win over Division III Heidelberg inside the Convocation Center. The Bobcats (2-0) never trailed after the first six minutes, bagged 13 3-pointers, saw two freshmen score in double figures and enjoyed another dominating performance from sophomore point guard Jason Preston.

“We really shared the basketball,” Boals noted. “We made the right play for the most part.”

In that way, the Bobcats followed the lead of Preston — the big-haired second-year guard with an uncanny knack for passing and a still-developing arsenal of offensive moves. Preston finished with 16 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds — with just one turnover — in 30 jam-packed minutes.

It was Preston’s second double-double, in two games, this season. As a team, Ohio had 25 assists on 31 made field goals.

“He sets the tone,” Boals said.

Sophomore forward Ben Vander Plas added a game-high 18 points for Ohio, and freshmen Nolan Foster (12 points and eight rebounds) and Lunden McDay (10 points, 4 assists) had the first double-figure games of their careers.

The Bobcats hit 13 3s on 27 attempts (48.1 percent) as Ohio’s offense flourished in what will be its last home game for three weeks. Vander Plas said the offensive end of the floor feels wide open right now with Preston running the show.

“He’s truly a pass-first point guard,” Vander Plas said. “It’s a blast playing with him.”

Heidelberg was playing in its first real game of the season, and the result won’t count in the Student Princes’ win-loss record this season. Heidelberg hit its first two shots, led 5-1 at one point, and lead 9-8 with 15 minutes left in the half.

But it all disappeared quickly once Ohio found some offensive rhythm. Dylan Woods had a team-high 13 points for the Princes and hit 5 of 10 shots. The rest of the Heidelberg roster was just 14 of 47 from the field.

Ohio blew the game open in the final third of the first half. Leading, 21-17, the Bobcats used a 14-2 run blow the lead out to 16 points.

OU caught fire from 3-point range during the stretch with Vander Plas, then Jordan Dartis, then Vander Plas again hitting triples on three consecutive possessions. Preston, who assisted on each of the 3s, then fed McDay for a layup for 11 points in four possessions.

Up 11 with less than a minute left in the half, Ohio turned back to the 3 for two big buckets to end the half. Foster, a center, hit his first career 3-pointer from the right corner, and redshirt freshman Mason McMurray hit another from the left wing just before the first-half buzzer for a 43-26 lead at the break.

Heidelberg scored the first four points of the second half and Boals responded with a quick time out. After the stoppage, the Bobcats landed a 13-5 surge for a 56-35 lead and never looked back.

McMurray, a redshirt freshman, hit 3 of 4 from the arc for the first three 3-pointers of his college career. Vander Plas added a 3-for-4 effort from the arc, and Dartis hit 3 of 9 from long range.

All told, seven different players hit 3-pointers for OU, including centers Foster and Sylvester Ogbonda, and forward Vander Plas and McMurray.

“Those guys have been ready,” Preston said. “There’s spacing, they’re ready to shoot and they’ve been knocking them down.

“It’s been great.”

There’s been little that hasn’t been great for OU so far. But that could change soon.

Ohio hits the road on Wednesday for a 7 p.m. start against Iona (0-0) in the Hynes Center in New Rochelle, New York. The game will be the first of five in a row away from Athens, including a visit next Saturday at national power Villanova.

Boals said he’s not worried about the record or being ahead of schedule. He didn’t even mention, or was asked about, his first home win as Ohio’s new coach.

“Our goal wasn’t to be 2-0,” Boals said, reverting back to his coach talking points. “Our goal is just to get better every day.”

Ohio 88, Heidelberg 50

Heidelberg 26 24 — 50

Ohio 43 45 — 88

HEIDELBERG 50

Prince Benson 2 0-0 4, Alex Arellano 2 1-5 5, Tamal Watkins 3 0-0 6, Josh Dixon 1 2-2 4, Dylan Woods 5 0-0 13, Seth Hohman 0 0-0 0, Emmanuel Perdue 3 2-3 9, Phariz Watkins 1 1-2 4, Coby Kelly 0 0-0 0, Logan West-Holmes 0 0-0 0, Martone Cole 1 0-0 2, Curt Jacobs 0 0-0 0, Matt Cool 0 0-0 0, Nahki Taylor 0 0-0 0, Jacob Logsdon 1 0-0 3, Amil Jenkins 0 0-0 0; TOTALS 19 6-12 50; 3-point goals — 6-19 (Woods 3-4, P. Watkins 1-1, Logsdon 1-1, Perdue 1-3, Arellano 0-2, Cole 0-2, T. Watkins 0-3).

OHIO (2-0) 88

Ben Vander Plas 6 3-7 18, Sylvester Ogbonda 2 4-4 9, Jason Preston 6 3-4 16, Lunden McDay 4 2-2 10, Jordan Dartis 3 0-0 9, Nate Springs 1 0-0 2, Nolan Foster 5 1-2 12, Mason McMurray 3 0-0 9, John Tenerowicz 0 0-0 0, Michael Brown 0 0-0 0, Marvin Price 1 0-0 3; TOTALS 31 13-19 88; 3-point goals — 13-27 (Vander Plas 3-4, McMurray 3-4, Dartis 3-9, Foster 1-1, Ogbonda 1-2, Preston 1-2, Price 1-2, McDay 0-1, Springs 0-1, Tenerowicz 0-1).

TEAM STATISTICS/INDIVIDUAL LEADERS

Field goals — Heidelberg 19-57 (.333), 3-point goals 6-19 (.316); Ohio 31-61 (.508), 3-point goals 13-27 (.481); Free throws — Heidelberg 6-12 (.500), Ohio 13-19 (.684); Rebounds — Heidelberg 30/9 offensive (Arellano 12); Ohio 44/12 offensive (Foster 8); Assists — Heidelberg 15, Ohio 25 (Preston 11); Steals — Heidelberg 5, Ohio 5; Blocks — Heidelberg 0, Ohio 2 (Ogbonda 2); Turnovers — Heidelberg 15, Ohio 12; Personal fouls — Heidelberg 16, Ohio 15; Attendance — 4.043; Technical fouls — None.

Email at jarkley@athensmessenger.com; follow on Twitter @JasonAmessenger

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