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MAC women's tournament championship preview: Eastern Michigan Eagles vs. Ohio Bobcats

Will the Eagles do what's never been done before?

Eric P. Mull-USA TODAY Sports

When it comes to the MAC Women's Tournament, winning five games in six days is the ultimate feat. Many have tried, but it has never been done. For just the second time in tourney history, a team has that played in the first round has sealed away a date in the Championship game. Last year it was Ball State. This year it's Cha Sweeney and the Eastern Michigan Eagles (22-11) who will battle with top seeded Ohio (26-4) to try to complete that magnificent run.

And what it run it has been for Eastern Michigan, who haven't trailed a single second since the early second half of their first round home game versus Kent State. In all four games, Cha Sweeney has led EMU in scoring, reaching as many as 29 in a second round matchup with Toledo. Sweeney has also picked up three or more assists in every tourney game, which includes five against Ball State. Brianna Puni, Janay Morton and Jamaica Bucknor have been the defensive and rebounding leaders for the Eagles, with Puni picking up 16 rebounds versus Ball State.

Let's talk about the semifinal upset a little. EMU drained seven triples in the first half, including 18 of their first 20 points coming on three-balls. Eastern also out-rebounded the Cards on both sides of the court, picking up over 20 offensive rebounds compared to BSU's single digit total.

With Bull Run picking up the preview and recap for the UB-Ohio game, this is the first time we get to discuss the top-seeded Bobcats. Ohio held off Buffalo's fierce second half comeback and would end up winning 63-55 to book a trip into today's final. The 'Cats finished MAC play at 16-2, but one of their losses was to this EMU team in Athens (we'll talk about that some more a little bit later). Yesterday, Ohio used a balanced attack to defeat Buffalo, with Kiyanna Black, Mariah Byard and Lexie Baldwin all leading the way with 13 points a piece.

Other than that, it had been over a week since Ohio had last played, and unlike Ball State, the rust didn't get to them against Buffalo. Ohio is lead in scoring on the season by Black who is scoring over 15 a game on average and the Bobcats will need all they can get out of her to balance out how good Sweeney has been throughout this tournament.

EMU and Ohio have split two previous meetings this season, with the road team walking away with a victory each time. Ohio won the first meeting in Ypsi, 82-59 on Jan. 14. Hannah Boesinger led the 'Cats with 18 points in that win. Back on Feb. 18, Eastern beat Ohio 73-61, which would end up being Ohio's largest margin of defeat all season. Sweeney led Eastern with 23 points, Bucknor added 17 and Morton scored 14.

Ohio might be a tournament team with a loss tomorrow as well. OU's sparkling 26-4 mark, along with a RPI hovering around 50 puts the Bobcats right on the bubble for an at-large bid.

The two teams tip off at 1:00 pm Cleveland time, with the game being shown live on ESPN3 and can be heard on WEMU 89.1 FM Ypsilanti.

Team Leaders

Player Ohio Eastern Michigan
Points Per Game K. Black (15.8) C. Sweeney (16.8)
Rebounds Per Game Q. Lampkins (6.7) B. Puni (6.7)
Assists Per Game Q. Lampkins (2.6) C. Sweeney (3.7)
Blocks Per Game W. Jasmine (0.9) B. Puni (0.8)
Steals Per Game K. Black (1.8) J. Morton (2.1)