ATHENS, Ohio — On a night where Star Wars was the theme and lightsabers were handed out to the first 200 fans in attendance, it quickly became clear that the force wasn’t with the University of Rio Grande.
And while the RedStorm tried their best against their taller and more athletic host, Ohio University, leave it to the musings of the Jedi master Yoda – “Do or do not. There is no try.”
The Bobcats used a first half blitz to open up a 31-point halftime lead and cruised to a 90-51 victory, Wednesday night, before an announced crowd of 3,333 at the Convocation Center.
Ohio, a member of the NCAA Division I Mid-American Conference, improved to 6-3 with the win.
Rio Grande (6-4), which was facing its second Division I opponent of the season, designated the game as an exhibition contest.
The RedStorm actually led, 6-4, after a bucket by sophomore Markus Geldenhuys (Pretoria, South Africa) with 16:28 left in the opening half, but the Bobcats responded with a 31-5 run over the next 10 minutes to open up a 24-point lead.
Rio Grande got no closer than 20 points the rest of the way.
Ohio’s lead reached 51-20 by intermission and found its largest point of the night – 45 points – at 84-39 after a jumper by Mason McMurray with 5:23 left in the game.
The Bobcats shot just under 66 percent from the field in the first half and finished at a sizzling 58.7 percent (37-for-63) for the game.
Rio Grande shot 28.6 percent in the first half and 35% for the game (21-for-60), while also committing 17 turnovers and being outrebounded, 38-28.
Ben Vander Plas, Sylvester Ogbonda and Marvin Price all had 14 points to lead Ohio. Ogbonda also had a game-high eight rebounds.
McMurray added 12 points in the winning effort for the Bobcats, while Jason Preston finished with 11 points and a game-high 13 assists.
Sophomore Gunner Short (Catlettsburg, KY) led Rio Grande in a losing cause with 17 points, while Geldenhuys pulled down a team-high six rebounds. Both, along with sophomore Joshua Anthony (Newnan, GA) also had two assists.
Rio Grande returns to action on Saturday when it opens River States Conference play at Ohio Christian University.
Tipoff is set for 3 p.m. at the Maxwell Center in Circleville.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.