Ohio University redshirt sophomore guard Jaaron Simmons (#2) drives to the net against the Northern Illinois defense at the Convocation Center in Athens, Ohio on Saturday. The Bobcats defeated the Huskies, 80-69, and Simmons recorded his fifth double-double of the season. (Nicole Raucheisen/WOUB)

Ohio Advances in MAC Tournament With Win Over NIU 79-62

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The Ohio Bobcats dominated the Northern Illinois Huskies Thursday night in the quarterfinal of the Mid-American Conference Tournament. Ohio defeated the Huskies 79-62.

All five starters scored in double figures for Ohio and they led for all but 16 seconds in the contest. Jaaron Simmons led the way for the Bobcats with 16 points and 11 assists.

“I want to say right now guys, if you didn’t vote for Jaaron as a first team All Conference player then you didn’t see his play enough,” Phillips adamantly said.

“Look at what he did tonight. He absolutely dominated the game, he’s been doing it all darn year. Listen, I don’t care if you had to add an extra person on the team, there is no way he’s not a first team All Conference player, no way, no chance, no. No, no, no.

Phillips then asked Campbell if his is the MAC MVP with out Jaaron? Campbell answered “No.”

Simmons successfully ran a pick and roll with Kenny Kaminski and Antonio Campbell all night. It resulted in layups for Simmons and three-balls for the shooters of the Bobcats. Ohio hit 14 three-pointers in the game.

“We were channeling our inner Akron,” head coach Saul Phillips said. “They were going in, so you know, you kind of take what they give you.”

Campbell got the scoring started for Ohio with a reverse layup. Ohio scored seven of the next 12 points, to lead 9-5, after just three minutes of play. That run was capped off when Simmons hit Campbell for an ally-oop. A Kaminski 3-pointer extended the lead to 14-9, with 15-minutes remaining. The Huskies took their first and only lead after seven straight from Marshawn Wilson.

Ohio regained the lead with back-to-back-to-back triples from Block and Kaminski putting the ‘Cats up, 23-16 with 11:09 remaining. Ohio kept the lead around six points for the remaining minutes of the half. Simmons drained a three-ball with 2:49 remaining to give the ‘Cats a 36-27 lead. Neither team scored for the rest of the half.

Ohio began the second half on a 12-4 run thanks to threes from Jordan Dartis and Kenny Kaminski and buckets from Campbell and Setty. The ‘Cats led 48-31 after three minutes of second half action and kept the lead in double figures for the rest of the game.

After a 9-0 run the Bobcats led 57-33 with 14:45 remaining. Ohio kept the lead around 20 for the next five minutes. The Huskies managed to trim the lead to 13 at the 6:30 mark. But, back-to-back-to-back treys from Dartis, Setty and then Dartis ended any hope of a comeback.

Late in the fourth quarter Campbell appeared to hurt his shoulder, but he managed to finish the game.

“He was able to play the rest of the game,” Phillips said. “He said it was sore, but everybody’s sore this time of the year. He certainly doesn’t have anything wrong with him. Our Doc looked at him, he doesn’t have anything wrong with him that’s going to affect him going into tomorrow night. Yeah, there’s no such thing as hurt in March.”

Ohio got a balanced effort tonight. Simmons registered his sixth double-double of the season with 16 points and 11 assists. Kaminski drilled five threes on his way to 17 points. Campbell had 21 points, eight rebounds and five blocks. While Dartis  added 11 and Setty chipped in 10. Off the bench Gavin Block grabbed eight rebounds and drew three big charges.

“If Gavin Block struggles finding employment out of college, which I doubt he will, he could definitely be a speed bump because he does a very good imitation of one out there,” Phillips jokingly said.

“He does, he helps me out a little bit, he stops me from getting fouls,” Campbell said of Block. “He does it in practice and he’s one of the few charge takers on our team.”

Ohio is back in action tomorrow night and will take on Buffalo after they defeated Miami, 91-84. Tipoff is scheduled for following the 30 minutes after the completion of the 6:30pm semifinal match-up between Akron and Bowling Green.