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Ohio forward Kamille Buckner takes the ball toward the hoop during Wednesday's game against Miami. The Bobcats won 76-47. The team will play at Northern Illinois Sunday as part of the Mid-American Conference Tournament. (Sam Owens | FOR THE POST)

Women's Basketball: Coach approaches MAC tournament with motto from iconic former coach

For about 15 minutes following Ohio’s win again Miami Wednesday, coach Semeka Randall did not know where her team would travel for its first-round game in the Mid-American Conference tournament.

And for those 15 minutes, she really didn’t care.

“We’ve just got to win,” she said. “This time around, it’s all about winning.”    

By wrapping up a humbling season with their most lopsided MAC win in eight years, the Bobcats earned the 10th seed in the tournament and will visit Northern Illinois for the second time this season. Had the Huskies lost to Ball State, Ohio would have traveled to Buffalo for the second time in as many weeks.

“It was going to be seven (hours) one way or seven of the other way,” Randall said.

“It just depends on which way you want to go. Now you get deep-dish pizza and you don’t get the wings at Buffalo.”

Randall said she is approaching the MAC Tournament the way she has in any sudden-death situation since her days as a player at Tennessee.

“Survive and advance,” she said. “All I can recall is hearing Pat Summitt say that to me, us constantly. It’s about surviving and advancing, or you’ll be calling the dry cleaners early. And I necessarily wouldn’t want to call the dry cleaners early.”

In their last meeting Jan. 29 at The Convo, Ohio and Northern Illinois played evenly in the first half before the Huskies went on a scoring spree after the break en route to a 56-48 win. Redshirt senior Marke Freeman contributed 23 points and 17 rebounds.

“I think that game we just got outhustled,” sophomore forward Alesia Howard said. “She just destroyed us, playing her game up-tempo.”

Freeman, who is only 5-foot-5, has the second-most blocks for Northern Illinois. She trails 6-foot-3 center Ebony Ellis in that department. She swatted away a last-second 3-pointer against Ball State to ensure the Huskies’ 49-46 win Wednesday.

Ohio has had three separate stretches of five or more losses this season. The team won back-to-back games the first two times. This time around, the Bobcats are hoping for more of the same.

“We haven’t had the best conference season — or nonconference season … what do we have to lose?” Howard said.

“We have nothing. We’re just playing basketball.  

“We just got to get ourselves mentally prepared for a battle.”


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