In a classic clash between division leaders, it was the Bobcats who finally blinked.
Central Michigan held on for a 92-90 overtime win over Ohio on Saturday afternoon inside McGuirk Arena in Mount Pleasant, Michigan. The Chippewas (16-4, 9-0 Mid-American Conference) won for the 16th time in their last 17 games, and picked up their fifth straight win when trailing in the fourth quarter.
Ohio (13-7, 6-3 MAC) had a four-game winning streak snapped and fell three full games behind CMU for the overall MAC lead at the halfway point of the conference season. The Bobcats lead the MAC East Division, while the Chips hold a 3.5-game lead in the West Division.
In a big game dominated by huge games by several players, Ohio saw another potential win slip just out of reach. OU’s three conference losses have come by a combined five points; CMU also won the first meeting this season by two points in Athens in early January.
On Saturday, the teams battled throughout with 21 lead changes and 16 ties.
“It was a great basketball game and both teams made big shots,” said Ohio head coach Bob Boldon in a postgame radio interview. “Every time we play them it’s a close game.”
Forward Kyra Bussell led CMU with a career-high 33 points and added nine rebounds. Bussell hit 15 of 20 shots as she finished consistently around the rim. Freshman guard Molly Davis was also terrific with 23 points on 10 of 14 shooting, with six rebounds and five assists.
Maddy Watters added 13 points for CMU, which got by with a season-low 10 points from leading scorer Micaela Kelly. Kelly had 10 points, eight rebounds and 12 assists, but was also forced into 10 turnovers.
Kelly scored CMU’s final five points in overtime to help secure the win. After Davis hit a 3 to edge CMU in front 87-86, Kelly hit a foul-line jumper, then a base-line jumper to give the Chips a 91-86 lead.
Erica Johnson scored on layup with 50 seconds left to pull OU to within three. Gabby Burris then scored on an offensive rebound with 1.6 seconds left to cut the deficit to 91-90. After Kelly hit a free throw with 0.6 seconds left, Ohio’s last ditch lob play to forward Edecia Beck failed to convert.
“I thought we did a good job of weathering the storms and did a good job of executing down the stretch,” Boldon said.
Ohio junior guard Cece Hooks produced a career-high 35 points, and added seven rebounds, four assists and three steals, to lead the Bobcats. Johnson, a junior, added 21 points.
Beck logged her first career start and had a career high 12 points with eight rebounds. Sophomore guard Caitlyn Kroll added nine points and Burris, a junior, added seven and 11 rebounds.
Ohio played the game short-handed. The team’s lone senior, and third-leading scorer, Amani Burke missed the game due to recent death in her family.
CMU started hot and led by 13 points midway through the first quarter. Ohio rallied, and took a one-point lead at halftime after Johnson scored 14 points in the first half.
OU led by as many as nine points in the third, and took a four-point lead into the fourth.
Ohio trailed 80-77 late in the fourth quarter before Hooks’ sharp drive inside cut the deficit to just one. With 11 seconds left, Johnson fed Burris for a go-ahead layup on an inbounds play and an 81-80 lead.
But with just one second left, Kelly was fouled in the lane for CMU. When a trainer came on to the floor to check on a shaken up Kelly, the Chips had to substitute in a player to take the resulting free throws. Backup Kalle Martinez hit one of two free throws to tie it 81-81 and send the game to overtime.
Ohio returns to action on Wednesday with a 7 p.m. start at Eastern Michigan (10-10, 5-4 MAC). The Bobcats lead Kent State (11-8, 4-4 MAC) by 1.5 games in the MAC East, and host the Golden Flashes on Saturday at 1 p.m.
Central Michigan 92, Ohio 90 (OT)
Ohio 17 25 22 17 9 — 90
Central Michigan 28 13 19 21 11 — 92
OHIO 90 (13-7, 6-3 MAC)
Cece Hooks 14 7-11 35, Edecia Beck 5 1-3 12, Caitlyn Kroll 3 1-2 9, Gabby Burris 3 0-0 7, Katie Barker 2 0-0 6, Erica Johnson 9 0-0 21, Peyton Guice 0 0-0 0; TOTALS 36 9-16 90; 3-point goals — 9-29 (Johnson 3-11, Kroll 2-4, Barker 2-5, Beck 1-3, Burris 1-4, Hooks 0-2).
CENTRAL MICHIGAN 92 (16-4, 9-0 MAC)
Kyra Bussell 15 3-4 33, Molly Davis 10 0-0 23, Maddy Watters 5 0-0 13, Micaela Kelly 4 1-2 10, Jahari Smith 4 1-2 9, Gabrielle Bird 1 0-0 3, Mackenna Kelly 0 0-0 0, Sophia Karasinski 0 0-0 0, Kalle Martinez 0 1-2 1; TOTALS 39 6-10 92; 3-point goals — 8-26 (Davis 3-6, Watters 3-6, Micaela Kelly 1-6, Bird 1-6, Bussell 0-1).
TEAM STATISTICS/INDIVIDUAL LEADERS
Field goals — Ohio 36-86 (.419), 3-point goals 9-29 (.310); Central Michigan 39-64 (.609), 3-point goals 8-26 (.308); Free throws — Ohio 9-16 (.563), CMU 6-10 (.600); Rebounds — Ohio 44/20 offensive (Burris 11), CMU 38/4 offensive (Bussell 9); Assists — Ohio 10 (Hooks 4), CMU 25 (Kelly 12); Steals — Ohio 9 (Hooks/Johnson 3), CMU 2; Blocks — Ohio 0, CMU 4; Turnovers — Ohio 9, CMU 19; Personal fouls — Ohio 14, CMU 15; Attendance — 2,173; Technical fouls — None.