Women's basketball challenges Ohio for top spot in MAC
Central Michigan (16-5, 7-2 Mid-American Conference) recovered after a rough first half against Ball State, 2-7 in league play, to win, 81-63.
However, the Chippewas cannot afford to start slow against Ohio (19-2, 8-2) in their matchup at 1 p.m. Feb. 9 at McGuirk Arena.
In the most recent NCAA Tournament projections, both teams are slotted to make the Big Dance, with CMU garnering an eight seed and Ohio a 10 seed.
Coming into the game against Ohio, CMU is the sole leader of the MAC West.
Senior forward Reyna Frost has been a monster in the paint for the Chippewas over the past handful of games.
Frost averages a remarkable 19.9 points and 13.0 rebounds on the season, but she has taken her game to new heights in back-to-back games.
Back on Jan. 9, the Chippewas handed the Bobcats their first loss of the season, 88-70, in Athens, Ohio. Since then, Ohio fell to Miami (Ohio), 67-61, on Jan. 30.
"Obviously we beat them on their home floor, so they are going to want to take one from us," Frost said. "We have to be ready."
Four days after hauling in an astonishing 21 rebounds and 28 points in a 76-65 win over a strong Buffalo team, Frost delivered another dominant performance, scoring an additional 28 points and racking up 20 rebounds in the victory against Ball State on Feb. 6.
Quietly contributing 21 points in both wins was senior guard Presley Hudson. Hudson averages 20.5 points per game this season to along with 5.8 assists.
Against Ohio, CMU coach Sue Guevara needs excellent efforts from Frost and Hudson, as well as from other pieces such as Micaela Kelly, who averages 13.8 points per game.
Just as CMU leads the MAC West, Ohio is perched atop the MAC West standings. Ohio pours in 82.7 points a game and outscores opponents by an average of 17.6 points.
Ohio reached 90 points in each of their past two contests, obliterating Ball State by a score of 94-62 and overwhelming Akron in a 92-70 win.
Five players average 12 points or more for Ohio. Senior guard Cece Hooks paces the group with 16.8 points per game, followed by redshirt freshman Erica Johnson’s 14.4 points per game.
"I thought defensively that we did a good job of limiting one of their best players, Cierra Hooks," Guevara said of her team's first game against the Bobcats. "I thought defensively that was one of our better games."
The Bobcats boast a 7.6-plus turnover margin on the season, good for seventh in the nation. CMU is a far cry from that ratio, averaging 13.9 turnovers per game while only causing 13.0 for the opponent.
In order to topple Ohio and position itself as the new No. 1 seed in the MAC, CMU must play a fundamentally sound game while limiting the Bobcats’ potent offensive attack.