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'Hawks reclaim division lead in tight MAC East

By Justin Maskulinski
On February 4, 2013

Before the 'Hawks even tipped off Sunday at Northern Illinois University (5-16, 0-8 MAC) they were back in sole possession of first place in the MAC East.

The Miami University women's basketball team retook sole possession of first place in the Mid-American Conference (MAC) East with a 65-61 win against Northern Illinois University (NIU) and losses by other MAC East teams.

The RedHawks had fallen into a tie for first place following a loss to the University at Buffalo (7-14, 5-3 MAC) earlier in the week.

NIU's rough season continued with the narrow loss to the RedHawks, as the Huskies drop to 5-16 and 0-8 in the MAC for the year.

Miami led the Huskies 27-18 at the end of the first half. The 'Hawks were led by senior guard Courtney Osborn who had 15 first half points and 25 points total.

Head Coach Maria Fantanarosa called Osborn's performance "her best game in the past month."

"Osborn was great today, she did everything well," Fantanarosa said. "She kept our team on the same page with her directing."

Junior guard Hannah Robertson, who had nine points and played all but six minutes, praised Osborn's play as well.

"[Osborn] is a phenomenal player," Robertson said. "She's able to do it all."

Also leading the 'Hawks was senior Kirsten Olowinski who added another double-double to her school record with 10 points and 11 rebounds.

The 'Hawks will take on the MAC West leading University of Toledo (19-2, 7-1 MAC) at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Millett Hall.

"Toledo is definitely a great team, one of the best in the MAC," Robertson said. "We are excited for the challenge. It is a good opportunity for us."

Bowling Green State University (14-7, 5-3 MAC) defeated Central Michigan University (13-8, 7-1) to allow rival Toledo to sit atop of the MAC West standings.

"We have a lot of respect for Toledo," Fantanarosa said.

The Rockets are led by redshirt senior guard Naama Shafir and junior guard Andola Dortch, who both average 11 points per game.

Another key contributor for the Rockets is senior center Yolanda Richardson, who averages nine points and seven rebounds per game and has a 58 percent field goal percentage.

The Rockets have started the same five players in all but one game this season, and those five players combine to average 48 points per game.

Toledo's offense is not the concern for Fantanarosa as the 'Hawks prepare for Wednesday's matchup.

"Toledo is a very balanced team, their defense is their best part," Fantanarosa said. "We will need to take care of the ball and pick good shots."

Throughout the year the Red and White have taken an approach of not worrying or concerning themselves with how the opposing team is playing but Fantanarosa and the players are fully aware of the team they will play Wednesday night.

"It's always great to play a top team," Fantanarosa said. "I'm ready."

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