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Bobcats Show Heart in 58-55 Loss to CMU

Ohio's Tenishia Benson

March 7, 2012

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CLEVELAND, Ohio - Ohio Women's Basketball fought valiantly, but in the end came just a bit short in its quest to advance at the 2012 Mid-American Conference Tournament. The No. 8 Bobcats (14-18) were defeated by No. 5 Central Michigan, 58-55 Wednesday afternoon in the second round.

Tenishia Benson led Ohio with 13 points, eight rebounds and five assists while Mariah Byard (Mannington, W.Va.) also finished with 13 points. The freshman added three assists, going 3-for-8 from beyond the arc. Shavon Robinson also turned in a solid performance with 12 points, and team-highs in rebounds (9) and steals (5).

The Bobcats forced CMU into 27 percent shooting from three-point range and also won the turnover battle but had trouble containing Crystal Bradford. The freshman from Detroit finished with game-highs of 17 points and 11 rebounds off the bench for the Chippewas.

Both teams battled through tough defensive pressure in the early going, combining for eight early turnovers. Central Michigan's Jas'Mine Bracey got off to a fast start, scoring four early points on 2-of-2 shooting to help her side to a 6-2 lead at the under-16 media timeout. Ashley Fowler (Cincinnati, Ohio) began well on the glass, grabbing two early rebounds.

Holding a 13-7 edge with 10:58 to play in the first half, CMU went on an 8-4 run to take a 21-11 advantage at the 8:03 mark when Jalisa Olive buried a three-pointer from the corner. Erin Bailes (Huntington, W.Va.) played a solid opening few minutes for the Bobcats, scoring four points on 1-of-2 shooting from the field and a 2-of-2 mark from the free-throw line.

Byard came up big for the Bobcats at the 6:44 mark, draining a three-pointer to pull her side within seven (21-14). Not long thereafter, Symone Lyles (Silver Spring, Md.) buried a trey with a defender's hand in her face.

Ohio caught fire at the end of the first half, closing the frame on an 8-0 run. Bailes drained a three-pointer with 2:57 to play and Byard followed her act just a few minutes later, sinking one from long range to cut Central's advantage to two (31-29). With one second left in the first half, Benson hit a difficult mid-range jumper to level the scores as the buzzer sounded.

The Bobcats out-rebounded the Chippewas 20-17 in the first half and shot 11-31 (35.5 percent) from the field. Eight of Ohio's rebounds were on the offensive glass, leading to seven second-chance points. Ohio was effective from beyond the three-point arc, hitting four of its ten attempts. Central operated at a 44.4 percent clip from the field, hitting 12 of its 27 attempts.

Ohio and Central began the second half on an even mark, each scoring four early points to make it 35-35. The Bobcats were then able to go on a quick 5-0 run to make it 40-35 courtesy of a Byard three and a mid-range jumper by Robinson. The sophomore was able to make two more quick buckets in a row to give Ohio a 45-37 lead at the 12:57 mark, its largest advantage at that point in the contest.

Central picked up its intensity in a big way over the next few minutes, rattling off an 11-0 run to take a 48-45 lead at the 9:57 mark. Benson was able to stop this run with a nice mid-range jumper from the elbow at the 8:45 mark.

The `Cats were able to hold another three-point lead when Benson laid one in at the 4:59 mark to make it 53-50 in favor of the Green and White. A quick 4-0 run by CMU put the Chippewas back on top, 54-53 with just 3:37 to play.

From this point on, Central was able to score four of the final six points to narrowly edge the `Cats as time expired.