Expect points, close finish, for OU-CMU in women’s semifinals

Few teams around the league have provided as much angst, anxiety and frustration for Ohio University women’s basketball coach Bob Boldon as the Central Michigan Chippewas.

It’s why, even moments after a dramatic 61-59 win in the 2021 MAC Tournament quarterfinals on Wednesday, Boldon sounded rueful about the prospects of facing CMU in the semifinals. The second-seeded Chips (16-8) face No. 3 Ohio (14-7) in the first of two semifinals from Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse in Cleveland at approximately 12:30 p.m. on Friday.

MAC MVP Cece Hooks and the Bobcats face Central Michigan in the 2021 MAC Tournament semifinals on Friday, March 12 beginning at 10 a.m. Photo by Jason Arkley

The second semifinal will have No. 1 seed Bowling Green (19-5) against fourth-seeded Buffalo (15-8). Both games will be streamed live on ESPN+.

“It’s not like I’m any more excited about getting ready to play Central Michigan,” Boldon said Wednesday. “There’s just so many good teams in the league now.

“I just hope we can do our part to make it a good game.”

Good games have been the rule, not the exception, over the last five years when the two teams square off. With tons of points, and tight finishes, nearly all of the Bobcat clashes with the Chippewas have provided the kind of entertainment that’s fun to watch – but also tends to give coaches heartburn.

It doesn’t help Boldon that most have gone CMU’s way either. The Chips have won 8 of the last 10 overall meetings.

Ohio, in fact, snapped a three-game slide (by a total of seven points) against CMU  in the teams’ last meeting. The ‘Cats landed a 16-0 run in the first quarter and then held on for a 93-84 win back on Jan. 16 in Mount Pleasant, Mich.

CMU won the first meeting this season, 90-87, in the Convo.

“It’s always a good game with them,” said Ohio junior guard Erica Johnson, who logged 19 second-half points in OU’s win Wednesday. “I’m looking forward to it.”

Offense is the strong suit for both sides as the Bobcats and Chips rank No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in points per game in the league. And both teams are stocked with some of the best talent in the league.

Ohio has the MAC’s Most Valuable Player in senior guard Cece Hooks, who not only leads the league in scoring (25.8 ppg) but also the three-time defending MAC Defensive Player of the Year. Johnson, a third team all-league pick, didn’t play enough games to qualify for the leaderboard, but would be eighth with an averaged of 18.9 per game.

Hooks averaged 24 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.5 steals per game against CMU this season. Johnson averaged 23.5 points and 6.5 rebounds in two games vs. the Chips.

CMU counters with a pair of First Team All-MAC picks in Micaela Kelly and Molly Davis, both guards. Kelly was the 2020 MAC Player of the Year, and averaged 23.4 points this season. She bucketed 23 in the quarterfinals win over NIU, and has averaged 31.0 in two games against OU this season.

Davis averaged 20.3 per game this season, netted 24 in the tournament opener, and picked up 21.5 per game against OU this season.

The winner will move on to Saturday’s championship game, at 11 a.m. The Bobcats played in the 2019 title game, losing to Buffalo. The semifinal round, and the championship game, were wiped out in 2020 by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

2021 MAC Women’s Basketball Tournament

Wednesday, March 10 – Quarterfinals

  • Game 1: No. 1 Bowling Green 63, No. 8 Eastern Michigan 47
  • Game 2: No. 4 Buffalo 73, No. 5 Kent State 66
  • Game 3: No. 2 Central Michigan 83, No. 7 Northern Illinois 69
  • Game 4: No. 3 Ohio 61, No. 6 Ball State 59

Friday, March 12 – Semifinals

  • Game 5: No. 1 Bowling Green (19-5) vs. No. 4 Buffalo (15-8), 10 a.m. (ESPN+)
  • Game 6: No. 2 Central Michigan (16-8) vs. No. 3 Ohio (14-7), approximately 12:30 p.m. (ESPN+)

Saturday, March 13 – MAC Championship

  • Game 7: Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 winner, 11 a.m. (CBS Sports Network)

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