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Freshman Brown scores 28 in Ohio's rout of Ball State

Bobcats advance to semifinals of MAC Tournament

CLEVELAND – Freshman AJ Brown scored a career-high 28 points as Ohio blew out Ball State 90-70 in the quarterfinals of the Mid-American Conference tournament Thursday afternoon at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.

No. 5 seed Ohio (19-13) raced out to a 54-32 halftime advantage and led by as much as 33 points in the second half. The Bobcats advance to take on No. 1 seed Toledo, which has won 16 straight games.

Payton Sparks paced the No. 4 seed Cardinals (20-12) with 21 points.

Ball State actually led 10-4 in the opening four minutes and was up 14-9 at the 13:49 mark following two Demarius Jacobs free throws. Ohio began to dominate after that, beginning with a 10-0 run that included 3-pointers from Brown and DeVon Baker.

Leading 21-19, the Bobcats went on an 11-1 run, going up 30-20 on an Elmore James 3-pointer, and then later in the half, after working their lead up to 40-26, they scored another 12 straight points and took a 52-26 advantage on a pair of Brown free throws with 2:11 left in the half.

Brown hit a 3-pointer to give Ohio its biggest lead of the game at 72-39 with 14:23 to go in the game. From there, Ball State got only as close as 85-66 on a Luke Bumbalough 3-pointer with just 2:44 remaining.

Haylin Hunter scored 13 points, while Dwight Wilson posted a double-double of 11 points and 10 rebounds. Freshman Elmore James also reached double figures with 11 points, and Baker scored all nine of his points in the opening half in a huge effort by Ohio’s bench.

The Bobcats cooled to 48.5% shooting for the game after making 58.8% of their attempts in the first half. They connected on 11 of 25 (44%) 3-pointers. The Cardinals shot 40.3% overall, including 27.3% on 3-pointers.

Jacobs scored 11 points for Ball State. Jarron Coleman and Jaylin Sellers had 10 points each.

Ohio takes on Toledo in the semifinals of the tournament at 5 p.m. Friday on CBS Sports Network.

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