Cleveland, Ohio - Ohio opened the second half with an 11-0 run and avenged an earlier defeat to Toledo with a 65-57 win in the quarterfinals of the Mid-American Conference Tournament Thursday night at Quicken Loans Arena.
The Bobcats matched the all-time wins total for a single season with their 25th of the season and also knocked the Rockets out of the MAC Tournament for the second year in a row.
Leading by just two, the Bobcats blew open the game in the first two and a half minutes of the second half, taking a 37-24 advantage on a Walter Offutt steal and layup. Ohio had made eight field goals the whole first half, but scored seven in the first 5:30 of the second stanza.
D.J. Cooper finished with 18 points, dished out five assists and grabbed five rebounds to lead No. 3 Ohio (25-7) into Friday night’s semifinal match-up against No. 2 seed Buffalo. Reggie Keely added 13 points and six rebounds off the bench while Offutt also added 13 points.
Rian Pearson, the league-leading scorer in MAC play who torched the Bobcats for 18 points and 16 rebounds in the teams’ regular season battle, was held to eight points and four rebounds.
The Bobcats pushed the lead to 48-32 on a Keely dunk off a Kellogg steal and assist at the 12:58 mark. Toledo closed its deficit to single digits after a Matt Smith dunk made it a seven-point game. However, Ohio went on an 8-2 run, thanks to three's from Cooper and T.J. Hall.
Ohio started the game making one of its first 14 shots from the field en route to falling behind 8-3. However, the Bobcats went on a 9-0 run, 7 from Cooper to take the lead at 12-8.
The margin for either team never reached higher than four points the rest of the half and Ohio took a two-point lead to the lockers.
Cooper led Ohio in the first half with seven points, while Stevie Taylor added six and Keely chipped in five. The junior from Cleveland had five rebounds, along with classmate Baltic as Ohio out-rebounded the Rockets by 8 in the first half.
The Bobcats only shot 27 percent in the first half and was 2-of-13 from 3-point range. However, the Green & White held a 10-2 lead on points in the paint and a 7-0 lead in second chance points.
Ohio now faces No. 2 Buffalo tomorrow evening at 9:30 p.m. The game will be broadcast on STO and ESPN3. You can also listen along with Russ Eisenstein and Rob Cornelius on the IMG Ohio Sports Network.