Something’s got to give.
With the latest installation of the Battle of the Bricks rivalry tomorrow night, the Miami RedHawks and Ohio Bobcats couldn’t be more opposite.
The Bobcats (17-1, 6-1 Mid-American) enter as the conference’s top offensive unit, averaging 82.7 points per game. Their defense, which allows 64.8 points a game, ranks more towards the middle of the pack.
OK, now flip that.
The RedHawks (12-4, 4-2 MAC) have an elite defense that only gives up an average of 59.2 points. But their offense hasn’t caught up to that league-leading defense yet and currently rates as sixth in the MAC.
Not to mention, the two teams are each other’s biggest rival.
The only thing the ’Hawks and the Bobcats have in common is their success.
“It’s hard to win,” MU head coach Megan Duffy said on Saturday. “It’s hard to win in this league.”
But it hasn’t been tough for either of these teams. Miami rides a three-game winning streak into the Convocation Center in Athens and sits third in the MAC East. First-place Ohio welcomes the RedHawks with its own six-game winning streak.
Most recently, Duffy’s team defeated the Kent State Golden Flashes 79-63 at home on Saturday. Four RedHawks finished in double digits with junior guard Lauren Dickerson and junior forward Savannah Kluesner recording 19 apiece to pace the team.
Senior guard Leah Purvis finished with 11 points, while senior forward Kristen Levering tallied a career-high 15.
“Our depth was one of our greatest strengths today,” Duffy said. “We had a couple different lineups in … I just thought we were able to use our bench and keep other kids fresh throughout the night.”
Dickerson and Kluesner, along with senior forward Kendall McCoy, score upwards of 12 points per game. The trio also makes up the RedHawks’ three leading rebounders.
The Bobcats counter Miami’s three double-digit scorers with five of their own. Ohio’s top scorer, sophomore guard Cece Hooks, ranks sixth in the MAC, averaging 16.5 points a game.
While Hooks is not a threat from 3-point land, the rest of the Bobcats are. As a team, they shoot 38.1 percent from deep – good enough for second in the MAC. Ohio and the conference’s leading gunner, senior guard Dominique Doseck, shoots an efficient 48.7 percent.
But, Miami tops the MAC in 3-point defense, allowing its opponents to hit just 21.5 percent of its downtown looks.
Something’s got to give, but history is on Miami’s side. The RedHawks hold a 55-32 advantage in the all-time series, and Duffy is an undefeated 2-0 against the team from Athens.
On Jan. 9, the Bobcats suffered their only loss of the season against the Central Michigan Chippewas, who the RedHawks defeated a week later, handing CMU its first MAC loss at home since 2016.
The win over the Chippewas spurred Miami’s three-game winning streak, but players know the season is far from over.
“We have some big games coming up for sure,” Levering said on Saturday. “It was our bye week [last week], so we had a lot of time to prepare, and it was awesome the way that our team came together … We’ll take that confidence into our next games.”
The Battle of the Bricks tips off at 7 p.m. tomorrow and can be watched on ESPN+.