AKRON — Ohio coach Jeff Boals reached a career milestone, and the Bobcats earned a win in a difficult environment.
The Bobcats withstood a comeback from Akron, defeating the Zips 69-63 on Tuesday at James A. Rhodes Arena.
Ohio won for the sixth time in a row, improving to 11-2 and 2-0 in the Mid-American Conference.
Akron falls to 8-4 overall, and 1-1 in the MAC.
It was the 100th career coaching victory for Boals.
The Bobcats had big nights from Mark Sears and Jason Carter.
Sears scored a game-high 24 points on 8 of 14 shooting, making all six of his free throw attempts. He had five assists and eight rebounds.
Carter scored 19 points on 8 of 17 shooting with two blocks.
It was Ben Vander Plas who hit the biggest shot of the game, however.
The Bobcats led by 14 points on two different occasions in the second half, the final coming at 53-39 with 11:07 left after a Tommy Schmock layup.
Ohio still led by 10 with 7:04 remaining, going ahead 60-50 on Carter’s jumper.
The Zips went on an 11-0 run, tying the game at 60-60 on Ali Ali’s 3-pointer with 4:41 left. Akron led 61-60 after Enrique Freeman split a pair of free throws with 3:02 left.
Vander Plas didn’t blink, hitting a 3-pointer on the next possession to break Akron’s run and give Ohio a 63-61 lead with 2:45 remaining.
Vander Plas had 11 points, six rebounds and four assists.
Akron tied the game back up at 63-63 after two Xavier Castaneda free throws with 2:12 on the clock.
Ben Roderick gave Ohio the lead for good at 65-63 with 1:48 left on a jumper in the paint.
Akron missed two 3-pointers with a chance to take the lead before Sears’ field goal gave Ohio a 67-63 lead with just 24 seconds remaining.
The Zips missed another 3 on the offensive end, and Carter’s dunk in the closing seconds provided the exclamation point.
Roderick and Schmock each finished with five points and three rebounds. Miles Brown scored three points with two assists, while Sam Towns had two points.
Ohio shot 50 percent from the field, making 26 of 52 attempts. The Bobcats had just 10 turnovers.
Akron was 22 of 56 from the field, 39.3 percent, with 10 turnovers. Ali led Akron with 22 points on 9 of 18 shooting with four assists. Mikal Dawson came off the bench for 14 points, with Castaneda adding 13 points. Freeman had seven points and 10 rebounds.
Ohio returns home for its first MAC game this season inside the Convocation Center. The Bobcats host Kent State at 6:30 p.m. in a game that can be seen on the CBS Sports Network.