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Shereef Mitchell (4) Guard position on Ohio Univeristy's Mens Basketball team shoots an open three pointer at The Convo, in Athens, Ohio on Dec. 6, 2023.

Men's Basketball: Ohio clinches MAC tournament spot with dominant win over Northern Illinois

Ohio (15-12, 9-5 Mid-American Conference) accomplished a season-long milestone on Saturday with a dominant 80-59 win over Northern Illinois (9-18, 3-11 MAC).

Ohio has put a couple of tough road losses from last week behind them, with two straight MAC wins featuring as good of defense as the team has played all season.

Despite an inconsistent start to the game for Ohio's offense, it played well enough through the first 12 minutes to keep Ohio down just 19-17 early. Ohio's offense began to heat up behind a dunk from Aidan Hadaway and a made 3-point jump shot from Shereef Mitchell. The Bobcats added 6 more points off of free throws from Miles Brown and Hadaway to go along with a layup from Jaylin Hunter to take a 9-point lead.

The Bobcats cooled down to end the half but still took an 8-point lead into halftime.

Ohio wasted no time taking over the game in the second half. A 9-0 scoring run from Ohio included 7 straight points from Hadaway to give the team a commanding 17-point lead.

Hadaway had one of his best offensive games of the season with 17 points on 6-for-6 shooting. AJ Clayton, who had a quieter offensive performance than usual, had 5 straight points to bring Ohio's lead to 21.

Ike Cornish contributed to a solid 3-point shooting day for Ohio for its next score. The Bobcats made nine of 24 3-point attempts with makes from five different players. In comparison, the Huskies went just 3-for-21 from beyond the arc.

Another huge discrepancy between the two teams was the Bobcats' ability to force and capitalize off of turnovers. The Bobcats forced 17 turnovers while conceding 13 but scored 24 points off of those turnovers while giving up 10 points off turnovers.

If the game hadn't been decided already, Ohio made one last scoring run to lock up a spot in the MAC tournament. Up by 16 points with eight minutes to go, the Bobcats scored 10 straight points to put the game away for good. A key aspect of the 10-point run was back-to-back 3-point jumpers from Brown, who had his best offensive game of the season, tying a season-high of 17 points.

Brown went 6-for-8 from the field, including 3-for-4 from 3-point range. Brown has now reached double-figures in each of Ohio's last seven games.

With the win, Ohio moved to 9-5 in the Conference, solidifying the team's spot in the eight-team conference tournament. The win also brought Ohio just a game back of Central Michigan for third place in the MAC, as Central Michigan was defeated on the road against Miami.


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