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Ohio junior guard Nick Kellogg drives the hoop against Western Michigan in the Mid-American Conference Tournament semifinals. (Dan Kubus | Staff Photographer)

Basketball Notebook: Bobcats begin MAC Tournament with win against Broncos

Ohio won its Mid-American Tournament semifinal game against Western Michigan by a score of 74-63 Friday. The Bobcats (24-8, 14-2 MAC) will face Akron in the conference championship game Saturday at 6:30 p.m. Follow our chronological coverage of the game below.




There wasn’t exactly calm before the storm leading into Ohio’s Mid-American Conference semifinal showdown with Western Michigan Friday, as Quicken Loans Arena was still quieting down from an electric Akron win on the other side of the tournament bracket.

The Bobcats (23-8, 14-2 MAC) arrived at The Q by halftime of Akron’s 62-59 win against Kent State, and green shirts dotted the crowd well before then.

The stage was set — Ohio just needed to step into it.

Ohio personnel took to the court before the Akron cheerleaders had left it, and Western Michigan (20-11, 10-6 MAC) followed suit soon thereafter.

The Bobcats, sporting their white uniforms, had only 30 minutes until tip-off at that point.

Look back at the Bobcats' last game, a four-point win against Miami, here. Read beat reporter Jim Ryan's game previews here, and here. Follow him and The Post Sports on Twitter for game updates.


First Half


Ohio's starters were, as expected, senior guard D.J. Cooper, redshirt senior guard Walter Offutt, junior guard Nick Kellogg, junior forward T.J. Hall and senior forward Reggie Keely.

Western Michigan freshman forward Darius Paul, the MAC freshman of the year, started the scoring with a turnaround jumper, which Hall combatted with a layup of his own. 

Ohio senior forward Ivo Baltic was the first Bobcat to come in off the bench. He did so just inside the 18-minute mark.

Paul picked up his second foul less than four minutes into the game and was sent to the bench as a result. Ohio led 6-4 at that point.

Ohio redshirt junior forward Jon Smith checked in before the first media timeout and almost immediately slammed home a two-handed dunk on a feed from Cooper.

Ohio senior guard Travis Wilkins checked in for the Bobcats at the first media timeout, at which the teams were tied at eight.

Cooper hit a contested three-pointer coming out of the stoppage on his first field goal attempt of the night to give Ohio the lead. 

Keely then finished a layup to put the Bobcats ahead by five. 

There was just more than 12 minutes on the clock at that point. Sophomore guard Stevie Taylor and junior guard Ricardo Johnson made their first appearances then.

The Bobcats took a 10-2 run into the 11:30 mark, as Johnson converted a three-point play within a minute of entering the game.

Baltic then hit a three-pointer to up Ohio's run to 13-2 on his second field goal attempt of the game.

The Bobcats continued to charge through the 7:54 mark, at which they led 24-10. 

Cooper hit a transition three-pointer then to bring the present Bobcats contingent to its feet.

Offutt then hit a three-pointer from the corner on Ohio's next possession — the Bobcats' fourth of the game — to extend Ohio's lead to 16 points with 6:33 remaining in the first half.

Offutt broke the 30-point barrier for the Bobcats with 5:30 on the clock, and Kellogg extended their lead once again with a three-pointer from the wing with 5:17 remaining. 

A Cooper steal led to the three-point look.

The Bobcats led 34-15 at that point.

Western Michigan senior forward Nate Hutcheson and Taylor traded layups inside the four-minute mark.

The Broncos were able to mount a 7-2 run that was built around Hutcheson's three to cut the Bobcats' lead to 15 with two minutes remaining in the half.

Cooper hit his third three of the game with less than a minute left before halftime.


Halftime: Ohio 41, Western Michigan 24 


The Bobcats played perhaps their most efficient first half of the season Friday, shooting 64 percent from the field and 79 percent from three-point range.

Cooper led the charge with nine points and one fewer assist, while Keely had eight points and Offutt had six.

Hutcheson led the Broncos with eight points on 3-of-5 shooting.


Second Half


Ohio opened the second half slosly on the offensive end, as it took it almost two minutes to convert for the first time.

Hall also committed his third foul during that span, prompting Ohio coach Jim Christian to reach to Baltic once again on the bench.

The Broncos opened the second half on a 10-2 run, leading into the 16:45 mark.

After Christian burned a timeout, though, the Bobcats righted the ship with an Offutt layup.

It came up empty on its next two possessions, however.

The Bobcats continued to be cold offensively through the 14-minute mark, as the Broncos mounted a 14-4 second half run to that point. 

Keely broke the Bobcats' sore shooting with a layup with 12 minutes and change remaining, but the Broncos bounced back with a corner three-pointer of their own to move the score within five.

The Broncos continued to inch closer once the clock hit 11, as they came within two at that point.

A Cooper three-pointer on the Bobcats' next possession bounced their lead back to five.

Offutt upped Ohio's lead to eight inside the nine-minute mark with a three-pointer of his own.

He then sparked Ohio with a full-court pass to Cooper for an easy layup.

Ohio led 58-50 with 5:26 to play.

The Bobcats weren't in the clear yet, however.

Western Michigan climbed within six soon thereafter before a three-point play from Cooper upped Ohio's lead to nine with four minutes left.

Smith gave Ohio another spark with a monster one-handed jam with four minutes remaining. It was followed up by a Kellogg corner three, which gave the Bobcats a nine-point lead once again.

Kelllogg hit a corner three with a minute remaining to all but ice the game for the Bobcats.

Western Michigan hit a three and a free throw in the final minute, but its final charge wasn't enough to hold off the Bobcats.


Final: Ohio 74, Western Michigan 63


Ohio's second half wasn't pretty, but it turned up the volume in the game's waning minutes to pull away with a nine-point win.

The Bobcats shot only 37 percent in the second half after shooting 64 percent in the opening stanza.

Notably, Western Michigan's Paul had suffered food poisoning leading into the game.




Cooper: 21 points, 10 assists

Offutt: 14 points, 11 rebounds

Keely: 12 points, three rebounds, two blocks

Kellogg: Nine points on 3-of-4 three-point shooting


Paul: 16 points on 6-of-7 shooting

Hutcheson: 16 points

Whittington: Six points, 12 rebounds




"We came in and it wasn’t time to beat them up. It was just time to tell them. Fellas, look, ‘This was the team that I was concerned about coming into the tournament.’ " — Steve Hawkins on his halftime speech

"Western Michigan made a great run at us in the second half, but I think our team showed great composure, great togetherness and that’s all I care about." — Christian

"Seniors step up and make big-time plays. That’s what he’s known for in the past four years he’s been here at Ohio." — Offutt on Cooper's play

"It’s my last MAC game and some of the seniors’ last MAC game. We love playing Akron. It’s intense and a slight rivalry. It’s competitive. If you’re a competitor you love to play in these type of games." — Cooper on facing Akron Saturday


Up Next


Ohio (24-8, 12-4 MAC) will face Akron Saturday at 6:30 p.m. in the MAC Tournament final. The Zips (25-6, 14-2) beat Kent State by three Friday.

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