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Men's Basketball: Ohio turns in impressive 85-67 MAC victory

Ohio (9-9, 3-3 Mid-American Conference) picked up its second-straight conference win Saturday evening after defeating Eastern Michigan (8-10, 1-5 MAC) in a dominant fashion of 85-67. The Bobcats' win on Saturday was their most dominant win during their conference schedule so far, and for the first time this season, they secured back-to-back conference wins.

Ohio’s dominant victory resulted from great play on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. Aidan Hadaway scored a career-high 20 points and was among four Ohio players to score in double figures. 

While Ohio almost dominated the entire game, the team came out relatively neck and neck with Eastern Michigan. After 8 minutes, Ohio trailed by 1 at 15-14. From that moment, Ohio went on a 32-13 run to end the half. With an 18-point lead at halftime, Ohio never looked back. 

“It’s fun playing off of each other,” Ohio guard Jaylin Hunter said. “It turns into our transition drills at practice, just sharing the ball and not thinking twice about it.”

Hadaway’s 11 points headlined Ohio’s first-half success. 

“I just let the game come to me,“ Hadaway said. "I didn’t force anything." 

Ohio’s 46 points scored in the first half were tied for the most that the team has scored in a half since conference play began. To go along with that, Ohio’s 28 points allowed in the first half were tied for the least that the team has allowed in a half for the same duration. 

A key for Ohio was stopping the MAC’s leading scorer, Tyson Acuff of Eastern Michigan. Acuff came in averaging 21.8 points per game. Against Ohio, Acuff scored a game-high 30 points. Although Ohio could not stop Acuff’s scoring ability, the team did enough to win. 

Coming out of the half, Ohio was tasked with retaining a nearly 20-point lead for 20 minutes. It did so without much resistance. 

The Bobcat lead inflated to as many as 38 in the second half before its starters inevitably came out of the game for the final minutes. 

Ohio’s large lead resulted from one of Ohio’s best games in terms of shooting all season. The Bobcats knocked down 11 3-pointers and shot 56.4% from the field. 

“I can’t remember the last time that we made 11 threes,” Ohio Head Coach Jeff Boals said. “It’s good to see. We haven't played our best basketball; we haven’t shot like we’re capable like we were tonight. Our guys do a lot of extra shooting, and I know that they’re capable of doing it … The biggest thing is making that extra pass and being shot-ready.”

While the offense was the story, having four players in double figures, the Ohio defense quietly had one of its best games of the MAC season so far. 

“I think the last two games, the transition defense has been really good,” Boals said. “Guarding without fouling has been good … The last two games, our guys have done a really good job at communicating. Our activity on the basketball, deflection-wise, has been good.”

After losing seven of nine games and three of its first four MAC games, Ohio rebounded in a big way with back-to-back dominant wins at home. 

“I’m proud of us this week,” Hunter said. “I think what we did in practice really carried over to the game; we just had the right mindset going in, and we preached our depth.”


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