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#3 Ohio pulls away late from #6 Ball State in 77-67 win; advances to MAC men’s basketball semifinals

All-MAC selections Vander Plas, Carter and Sears lead the way for the Bobcats.

NCAA Basketball: Ohio at Kentucky Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports

The #3 Ohio Bobcats eliminated a stubborn #6 Ball State Cardinal team, 77-67 at the 2022 Mid-American Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament in Cleveland, Ohio on Thursday night.

The Bobcats got strong performances from their veteran stars to advance. The game was close throughout the first half and Ball State led for much of the opening period. However, the Cardinals failed to score for three-plus minutes late in the half to allow Ohio to take a 36-35 lead into the locker room.

Ohio came out and scored the first 10 points of the second half to take 46-35 lead. The Cardinals seem to be playing catch-up the rest of the game. They did get back to within four points at 55-51 with nine minutes to play, but Ohio went on another extended run that basically but the game out of reach with a lead reaching as high as 23 points at one point. the Cardinals did their best to cut into that lead late, but it was too insurmountable.

Mark Sears had 24 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists to lead Ohio. Fellow All-MAC selections, Jason Carter and Ben Vander Plas complimented Sears beautifully. Carter scored 20 points and grabbed 18 rebounds, while Vander Plas added 14 points. Payton Sparks led the Cardinals with 20 points and 14 rebounds.

The Bobcats improve to 24-8 on the year and advance to play #2 Kent State in the semifinals tomorrow evening. Ball State finishes its season at 14-17.