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Ohio shuts down Western Michigan in blowout win

Bobcats advance to take on Akron in MAC semifinals

CLEVELAND – Ohio shut out Western Michigan for the first six minutes and coasted from there in an 82-55 victory in the quarterfinals of the Mid-American Conference tournament Thursday night at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.

The No. 3 seed Bobcats (20-12) won their seventh straight game and held the No. 6 Broncos (12-20) to 32.8% shooting, including just 24.0% shooting in the first half. Ohio will take on No. 2 seed Akron (22-10) in the semifinals at 7:30 p.m. Friday. The Zips overcame a slow start to beat No. 7 Miami 75-63.

Shareef Mitchell led Ohio with 15 points and six steals. Jaylin Hunter and Miles Brown added 13 points each, with Hunter also contributing five assists and five steals.

The Bobcats scored the game’s first eight points as the Broncos missed their first six field goals and two free throws with five turnovers before Seth Hubbard finally connected to get them on the board.

Ohio’s lead reached double digits at 17-7 on a Brown layup with 9:01 left in the half, and after Western Michigan cut it to five, the Bobcats were able to push back out to a 35-22 halftime lead.

The closest the game got in the second half was 48-36 on a B. Artis White 3-pointer with 12:15 to play, but Ohio followed with a Mitchell basket and then five points from Elmore James to go up 55-36.

Leading 59-45, the Bobcats put it away with an 11-0 run that included 3-pointers from Brown, AJ Clayton and then Jaylin Hunter. A Hunter layup made it 70-45 with 6:22 remaining.

Center Gabe Wiznitzer punctuated the win by knocking down a 3-pointer on Ohio’s final possession of the game.

Neither Aidan Hadaway (nine points) nor Clayton (seven points) reached double digits in scoring, but they both finished with 11 rebounds. Hadaway also had four assists and rocked the rim with a fast-break two-handed reverse jam. James provided a boost off the bench with nine points in just 10 minutes.

In addition to its poor shooting, Western Michigan’s awful offensive game included 18 turnovers. The Broncos were just 9 of 19 at the foul line.

White paced Western Michigan with 12 points, while Owen Lobsinger scored 11 points and added eight rebounds.

The Broncos won the only regular-season matchup between the teams 81-79 on Jan. 13 in Kalamazoo, Michigan, dropping the Bobcats to a 1-3 start in MAC play. The Bobcats have gone 12-3 since then.

The first MAC semifinal features No. 8 Kent State against No. 5 Bowling Green at 5 p.m. Friday. The Golden Flashes knocked off MAC regular season champion Toledo 67-59 in the first game of the day. Both semifinals will be broadcast on CBS Sports Network.

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