CLEVELAND —The Bobcats are one step closer to the title.
Ohio defeated Western Michigan 84-75 Wednesday in the Mid-American Conference Tournament Quarterfinal at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. The win puts Ohio one step closer to the title and a berth into the NCAA Tournament.
Here are some takeaways from Ohio’s win over the Broncos.
Johnson leads the way
After Cece Hooks got her fourth foul with 6:48 in the third quarter, the Bobcats were left without its primary ballhandler and best defender.
That wasn’t a problem, though. Erica Johnson took control of the team and the game.
Johnson did everything she could to lead Ohio to the semifinals: rebounding, passing and a lot of scoring. The guard finished the game with 28 points, 11 rebounds and five assists. She also hit the final 3-pointer to put the game out of reach. In last year’s MAC Tournament Johnson’s play was a major reason why Ohio made it to the conference championship. If she keeps it up, it’ll be hard to stop the Bobcats.
Burris battles in the paint
Western Michigan is a big physical team and can cause nightmarish matchups in the paint. It was Gabby Burris’ job to slow down the Broncos’ Breanna Mobley and Leighah-Amori Wool. The duo still combined for 32 points, but they had to work for it. Western Michigan’s offensive possessions took a lot of time off the clock and often ended with a tough contested shot.
Burke steps up in the final stretch
Western Michigan refused to go away and only trailed by seven points entering the fourth quarter. Hooks was going to make her way back into the game, but she would have to be cautious in order not to foul out.
Johnson needed another Bobcat to step up and relieve some of the pressure, and Amani Burke added the relief. She had 20 points, and nine of them came in the final quarter. She made 3-pointers, like usual, but was uncharacteristically aggressive. Burke was able to get to the rim and either finished or got to the line. Her emergence was what put Ohio over the top in the final quarter.
On to the next
Ohio is only two wins away from the NCAA Tournament, and now the Bobcats will face Toledo on Friday at 11 a.m. The Golden Rockets are flying high after knocking off No. 1 seed Central Michigan. Ohio blew out Toledo 86-58 in the two teams only meeting on Feb. 15.