After Ohio concluded its regular season last Saturday, Cece Hooks was asked what team she wants to play the most in the Mid-American Conference Tournament.
“Miami,” Hooks said. “I want to play them again, and actually put them away next time. Don’t let them come back.”
Hooks was talking about the Bobcats’ March 6 win over the RedHawks. It was the most emotional win of the season for Ohio and snapped a four-game losing streak against its biggest rival.
She smiled as she thought about having the chance to end Miami’s season. That would be the greatest way for the Bobcats to extract revenge, and they can do just that in their rematch with the RedHawks on Friday at Quicken Loans Arena in the MAC Tournament semifinals.
Ohio wouldn’t want to have it any other way. Nearly one year ago, Miami ended Ohio’s season with a slim 69-66 win in the second round of the MAC Tournament, and the Bobcats have since longed for another shot at the RedHawks in the postseason.
The winner on Friday will likely receive much more than a shot at the MAC Championship, too. The MAC has been projected to receive at least two bids for the NCAA Tournament, so the winner of the semifinals could also punch a ticket to the national stage.
But the Bobcats would much rather guarantee a trip to the NCAA Tournament by winning the MAC Championship. That’s been the goal since Ohio began its season on a 12-game winning streak and continued to dominate the MAC, and the Bobcats took a giant leap toward accomplishing it when they secured a first-round bye in the MAC Tournament after their last win against the RedHawks.
Ohio can take another step toward that goal by defeating the same opponent. It won’t be easy for the Bobcats, but they wouldn’t change a thing.
Game time: 1:30 p.m.
Listen: Ohio IMG Sports Network
Miami Probable Starters
Lauren Dickerson (5-foot-3)
Leah Purvis (5-foot-6)
Kendall McCoy (6-foot-0)
Baleigh Reid (5-foot-10)
Savannah Kluesner (6-foot-2)
Kristen Levering (6-foot-2)
Kennedy Taylor (5-foot-9)
Kenzie Schmitz (5-foot-10)
Miami Statistical Profile:
Points Per Game: 67.9
Rebounds Per Game: 38.3
Turnovers Per Game: 13
Field goal Percentage: 42.6 percent
3-point Percentage: 31.3 percent
Free-throw Percentage: 71 percent
This game will be the 91st meeting between the Bobcats and the RedHawks. Miami leads the all-time series 57-33 and has won four of the last five meetings, but Ohio won the last meeting 70-66.
Player to watch
Lauren Dickerson — The junior guard has led Miami to second-half comebacks in both games against Ohio this year. The Bobcats allowed Dickerson to score 21 second-half points in their 67-61 loss Jan. 30, and Dickerson scored 18 points in the second half on March 6 when the RedHawks erased a 25-point deficit. Ohio’s success will be largely dependent on how long it can lock down Dickerson.