CLEVELAND—For the third and final time this season, Ohio met Miami in the “Battle of the Bricks,” this time for the right to go to the Mid-American Conference Tournament Championship Game. In two meetings, Ohio and Miami both stole a win in thrillers, but that wasn’t the case Friday at Quicken Loans Arena. The Bobcats dominated Miami from start to finish, winning 74-48, advancing to the MAC Tournament Championship for the first time since 2015. Here are four takeaways from Ohio’s semifinal win. 

Quick starts

Ohio started Friday’s game strong against the RedHawks just like it had in their first two meetings. At the half, the Bobcats led by 13 — a nice lead for most teams, but not for Ohio. In the two teams first meeting, Ohio led by 19 at the half and still lost 67-61. In the teams’ second match-up, Ohio led by 23 at the half and still had to hold on for 70-66 victory. But that wasn’t the case on Friday. Ohio got the lead and extended it into blowout territory.  

Deesh Beck’s controlled play

Ohio coach Bob Boldon once joked that freshman forward Deesh Beck was like, “A bulldog in a china shop,” due to her gritty play that often got her in foul trouble. Well, on Friday that bulldog was controlled and gave Ohio 17 strong minutes, and finished with 10 points and six rebounds.

MAC Tournament MVP?

Just like in the Bobcats’ MAC Quarterfinal win, Erica Johnson stole the show. The point guard dominated on both ends of the floor, finishing with 18 points, 10 rebounds and four steals. The MAC Sixth Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year is well on her way to tournament MVP if she can lead the Bobcats to a win over Cierra Dillard and the Buffalo Bulls on Saturday morning. 

Up next

With the win, Ohio will face Buffalo in the MAC Tournament Championship on Saturday. This is the third time the two teams have faced this year. Buffalo is one of the toughest conference opponents the Bobcats have faced this season. In the MAC opener, the Bobcats had to storm back in the fourth quarter to force overtime and steal a win. In the rematch in Athens, the Bulls dominated Ohio 73-43, making a statement that the Bobcats have yet to forget.


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