CLEVELAND, Ohio –Led by a second-straight double-double from redshirt freshman forward Erica Johnson and 16 points from sophomore guard Cece Hooks, the second-seeded Ohio women's basketball team (27-4), defeated third-seeded Miami (23-8), 74-48, in the Mid-American Conference Semifinals on Friday afternoon (March 15) inside Quicken Loans Arena. The win advances the Bobcats to the MAC Championship game against fourth-seeded Buffalo on Saturday at 11 a.m. It is the first time since 2015 the Bobcats will play for the MAC title.
"I thought tonight we guarded as well as we could have and that's nice to see," head coach Bob Boldon said. "That's what it takes to win games in this time of the season. There's only good teams left playing in this time of the year so you have to be good yourself."
Ohio was led by Johnson (Mansfield, Ohio), who scored 18 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, going 6-of-9 from the field, 4-of-5 from three-point range and 2-of-3 from the free throw line. She also dished out a team-high three assists. Hooks (Dayton, Ohio), finished with 16 points, going 7-of-13 from the field. Hooks also added four rebounds and two assists.
Junior guard Amani Burke (Columbus, Ohio) finished with 12 points, while sophomore forward Gabby Burris (Baltimore, Ohio) and freshman forward Deesh Beck (Grand Rapids, Mich.) both finished with 10 points and six rebounds.
"I thought she (Deesh Beck) was great rebounding the basketball," Boldon added. "What did she have, six rebounds, and she gave us a couple of offensive rebounds, that's like found money for us. She made her layups and I thought her shot selection was amazing. She didn't force shots, she didn't force drives. She was aggresive and attacked whent he opportunity presented itself but passed when it didn't."
Overall, Ohio shot 45.5 percent from the field, 45.5 percent from three-point range and 77.8 percent from the free throw line, while Miami shot 31.3 percent from the field, 15.0 percent from three-point range and 62.5 percent from the free throw line. Miami out rebounded the Bobcats 40-38, while Ohio dished out nine assists, forced 17 turnovers and had 11 steals compared to Miami's 10 assists, 15 forced turnovers and six steals. The Bobcats also scored 23 points off of turnovers.
Miami won the tip, but Ohio immediately got the ball on a Miami turnover, setting Johnson up with her first three of the game. Miami jumped on the board a moment later, but a three from Burke would put Ohio up 6-4. After Miami would tie the game at six, two layups from Hooks and a three from Burke would spark a 7-0 run for the Bobcats, putting Ohio up 13-6 and forced the RedHawks to call a timeout with 6:22 left in the first quarter. Miami would get a jumper out of the timeout, but Johnson would respond with a three moments later, before a Burris layup gave Ohio an 18-10 lead with 4:35 left. Another layup from Hooks gave Ohio a 10-point lead before the Bobcats and RedHawks traded baskets the final minutes of the quarter, with Ohio leading 22-14 after the first 10 minutes.
Miami would get the first points of the second quarter, but Ohio's Beck would respond moments later with a powerful layup. The RedHawks cut the Ohio lead to 24-17 with 6:56 left, but a free throw from Johnson, a three from senior guard Dominique Doseck (Athens, Ohio) and a layup from Burris would give the Bobcats a 13-point lead with 3:48 left in the second quarter. A free throw from Burris and a three from Burke would stretch the Ohio lead to 34-17, However, Miami would go on a a 6-0 run to cut the lead to 34-23 with 1:52 left. A layup from Hooks moments later would give the Bobcats a 36-23 lead that would stand until the end of the quarter.
In the half, Ohio shot 50 percent from the field, 50 percent from three-point range and 40 percent from the free throw line, while Miami shot 33.3 percent from the field, did not make a three and shot 50.0 percent from the free throw line. Miami out rebounded the Bobcats 22-17, however, the Bobcats dished out six assists, forced seven turnovers and has one block compared to Miami's four assists and six forced turnovers. The Bobcats also scored seven fast break points and 11 points off of turnovers.
Ohio opened the third quarter with a three from Johnson and a layup from Burris extended the Ohio lead to 41-23 in the opening minute of quarter. A three pointer from Miami cut Ohio's lead to 41-26, but two free throws from Doseck and a three and a free throw from Johnson would give Ohio a 47-26 lead with 7:38 left in the quarter. Another layup and free throw from Hooks stretched the Ohio lead to 50-26 before a three from Doseck would give the Bobcats a 27-point lead with 3:44 to go in the quarter. Miami went on a 6-2 run that cut the Ohio lead to 55-32. After a free throw from Burris, the Bobcats would finish the third quarter on a 4-0 run to give Ohio a 59-32 lead after the third quarter.
Ohio opened the fourth with two free throws from Beck, before a layup from Miami would cut the Ohio lead to 61-33, but moments later, a three from Burke and a layup from Beck would give Ohio a 66-33 lead with 7:50 to go. Another layup and free throws from Burris would put the Bobcats up 70-34 with 5:46 to go. With a majority of the Bobcat's bench in the game, Miami went on a 12-4 run, cutting Ohio's lead to 72-45 with 1:43 to go. However, a couple defensive stops for Ohio would seal the dominating 48-74 victory for Ohio.
For Miami, Kendall McCoy led the RedHawks with 10 points and nine rebounds, while Kristen Levering, Savannah Kluesner and Abbey Hoff all scored seven points.
Ohio will return to action on Saturday, March 16 when the No. 2 Bobcats take on No. 4 Buffalo in the MAC Tournament Finals. Tip-off is set for 11 a.m. inside Quicken Loans Arena and can be seen on CBS Sports Network. The Bobcats and Bulls split the season series, 1-1.