The #5 seeded Ohio Bobcats built a sizeable first half lead and never looked back, defeating the #4 Kent State Golden Flashes by a final score of 85-63 in Mid-American Conference Championship Tournament action on Thursday afternoon at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse in Cleveland, Ohio.
Losing your team leader and All-Conference performer moments before the game is never good, especially come tournament time, and Kent State found out the hard way, as Kent first-team All-MAC performer Danny Pippen, Jr. was a late scratch from the lineup for currently undisclosed reasons. The loss of Pippen seemed to have an effect on the Flashes both on the court and mentally.
Thanks to a combination of pressure defense and continually engaged offensive communication, the Bobcats ran out to a 37-25 lead at halftime. The Flashes, on the other hand, were clearly ailing, going 7-of-24 from the field in the opening stanza, and committed nine turnovers. That combination of circumstances had the Flashes down by as many as 15 points in the first half.
The Bobcats shot an amazing 59 percent from the field for the game, with an incredible rate of 70 percent during much of the second half. Jason Preston led the Bobcats with 19 points and was a perfect 8-of-8 from the field. Lunden McDay added 18 for Ohio. Tervell Beck and Malique Jacobs both had 16 to lead the Flashes.
The Bobcats pushed their lead to as much as 28 points in the second half, as the Golden Flashes seemed to be running on fumes, and coasted to a blowout win to earn the first “upset” of the 2021 MAC Tournament.
The Bobcats improve to 14-7 on the year and advance to play the #1 seeded Toledo Rockets in tomorrow night’s first MAC semifinal game. Kent State finishes the year at 15-8.