Women's hoops host Ohio hoping to rebound after first MAC loss
CMU's women's basketball team ran into a sharpshooting Northern Illinois squad last time out.
After falling for the first time in Mid-American Conference play, the Chippewas (7-3, 5-1 MAC) is set to host Ohio at 1 p.m. Saturday in McGuirk Arena.
Saturday's game is the first half of a doubleheader with the men's team taking on Eastern Michigan at 4:30 p.m.
The Chippewas fell victim to a historic outing by the Huskies in their last outing, in which NIU scored 103 points and made 15 3-pointers.
The Chippewas hadn't given up 100 points since a double overtime loss to Green Bay in last season's season opener, and hadn't surrendered over 100 to a MAC opponent under second year coach Heather Oesterle.
Regardless, CMU will take the court against Ohio, a team the Chippewas beat, 90-87, on Jan. 2. In that game, senior guard Micaela Kelly scored 28 points and sophomore guard Molly Davis added 23 as part of a double-double.
The Bobcats are coming to McGuirk Arena after losing to Ball State in overtime at home and holding a 3-3 record in MAC play. With a win, Ohio can get back within a game of first place, while a loss will strengthen the Chippewas' resume.
Here are three notable topics surrounding the matchup:
Kelly continued what is turning out to be a spectacular senior campaign with 33 points against NIU. She's shooting with high efficiency, most notably her 39-percent mark from beyond the arc. Kelly has become a lock to score at least 10 points, doing so in every game dating back to Jan. 23, 2019.
What's more impressive is the numbers she's posted against the Bobcats in her career. She scored 21 and 10 points, respectively, in the two matchups the teams had last season and dropped 28 in their first meeting this year. She's done produced with two of the better defenders in the conference, Erica Johnson and Cece Hooks, assigned to her.
Johnson and Hooks will certainly do their part to slow Kelly's roll, however this usually bodes well for the Chippewas. Surrounded by Davis, seniors Maddy Watters and Kyra Bussell and junior forward Jahari Smith, Kelly has plenty of weapons to get the ball to within the offense. Kelly ranks second on the team and 10th in the conference in assists per game with 3.5.
A game of runs
The first time these teams met, both briefly held significant leads thanks to subtle scoring spurts. The Chippewas and Bobcats traded runs, with CMU holding a nine-point lead after the first quarter only to see that lead evaporate after Ohio won the second quarter, 26-11.
Clutch shooting from Kelly and Watters late in the game, and a defensive stop after a costly turnover, proved to be the difference in the first game. Yet, one or two bounces the other way could've swung the game's momentum. The Chippewas weren't able to put together one of their typical runs in their game against the Huskies, thus falling into an early hole that they were unable to climb out of.
The shooting skills that Watters, Davis and Kelly possess make CMU capable of going on a run at any time. However, Ohio's defense serves as the perfect foil. Look for Johnson and Hooks to establish themselves even more defensively, and the Bobcats may even experiment with three-quarter of full-court defense.
Historically close matchups
Each of the Chippewas' last four matchups with the Bobcats have been barn burners, with CMU taking the last three. The two team's final meeting of the 2018-19 season saw former Chippewa star Presley Hudson break the scoring record, however a late comeback was not enough as the Bobcats won 78-75.
Last season, the two teams played each other extremely close. The first matchup, played at Ohio's Convocation Center, was won by CMU on a late 3-pointer by then-senior Gabi Bird. The second went to overtime, with a Davis 3-pointer serving as the go-ahead bucket and a late Kelly free throw insuring the Chippewas' 92-90 win.
With so many returning pieces on both sides, and one matchup having already been so close, it's easy to envision the teams once again playing close to the wire. Though still early in the season, both teams are eager to put losses in prior games behind them. Expect to see the MAC's best on display when these two teams square off.