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Ohio guard Ashley Fowler looks toward the basket Jan. 29 against Northern Illinois at The Convo. The Bobcats fell to the Huskies 56-48 on Jan. 29 but won 72-56 yesterday. (Susannah Kay | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER)

Women's Basketball: 'Cats upset Huskies, advance to Cleveland

The role reversal that took place when Ohio and Northern Illinois met for their rematch closely resembled what would happen if Charlie Sheen and Billy Graham exchanged lives.

Bobcat freshman Erin Bailes poured in a career-high 23 points on 5-of-7 3-point shooting. She was also a perfect 8-of-8 mark from the free throw line to lead 10th-seeded Ohio to a 72-56 win in the first round of the Mid-American Conference Tournament.

Meanwhile, the Huskies' standout senior Marke Freeman, who had 23 points and 17 rebounds when the teams met Jan. 29, finished with only 10 points. She did not make a field goal for the first 38 minutes and finished 2-of-7 from the floor.

"It was a really big deal contributing," Bailes said. "We just all came together."

"Having her has been a tremendous weapon for us," added coach Semeka Randall.

The Bobcats (9-21, 4-12 MAC) used a two-pronged attack to separate themselves from the seventh-seeded Huskies. A strong paint presence from senior forward Kamille Buckner gave Ohio an edge near the basket.

In the first half, Buckner shot 5-of-5 from the field and added two assists on 3-pointers by Erin Bailes and Ashley Fowler. The pair contributed four baskets from beyond the arc in the first 20 minutes. The Bobcats entered the locker room with a 35-20 lead.

Ohio's only sub-par attribute was its defensive rebounding. Northern Illinois (13-17, 7-9 MAC) grabbed 11 offensive boards in the first half but managed only four second-chance points because of its poor shooting from the field. The Huskies converted on only eight of their 33 chances from the floor.

"We were able to penetrate and kick. We were finishing up baskets," Bailes said. "Shavon (Robinson) and Millie (Kamille Buckner) played really well together."

After the break, the Huskies kept pace with the Bobcats before rattling off eight straight points to cut Ohio's lead to 10. Randall called a timeout to regroup her team.

"We just needed to stop fouling, which was big, then kind of execute on the other end," Bailes said.

The Bobcats responded with a run of their own when Bailes nailed a 3-pointer. Less than a minute later, redshirt junior Tenishia Benson picked the ball from Northern Illinois' Courtney Shelton and passed to sophomore Tina Fisher, who made the layup while being fouled. Robinson later added another basket, effectively voiding the Huskies' charge.

"We just neded to get some composure," Randall said. "Once we got out of that, we were a lot more focused."

Ohio will face Bowling Green at noon Wednesday at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. The second-seeded Falcons swept the regular-season series.


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