Updated Sun, Dec 11, 2011 7:26 pm
The Ohio Lady Bobcats survived a late push from the San Francisco Lady Dons to get their first win in the five games, 63-53.
“Thank you, Jesus,” said forward Alesia Howard. “It really was like a monkey on our backs. It had to happen and it just happened to be San Francisco, but we couldn’t lose another game in a row.”
Ohio led 37-22 at halftime, but in the first seven minutes of the second half, San Francisco shot a blistering 75 percent to Ohio’s 33 percent, cutting the lead to 46-41. USF’s freshman guard Aundrea Gordon was the main reason for the spurt, scoring nine of the Lady Dons 17 points in the first eight minutes of the second frame.
With San Francisco’s zone press, better defense and rebounding, Ohio’s lead dwindled to five after a Bailey Barbour put back with 11 minutes left to play.
The Lady ‘Cats did not hit many shots, but they made the ones they needed to keep their lead. After Barbour’s shot, Ashley Fowler drained a three, then Alesia Howard nailed a put back layup to put Ohio’s lead back at ten.
“We needed some outside shots to open up their zone,” said Ohio head coach Semeka Randall.
Robinson added, “If shots are dropping, that’s always going to be a plus because you have your drive-and-kick opportunity and then shots are falling, it really freezes the defense on really not knowing what to expect from you.”
Another Barbour layup put the Lady Dons within six with seven minutes to play, but between four free throws made Howard and Shavon Robinson and a Tenishia Benson jumper, the Lady Bobcats’ lead jumped back to double digits. USF did not get within one possession for the rest of the game and never had the lead during the contest.
Howard and Robinson appreciated the point cushion that the early lead provided.
“We had some mental breakdowns in the second half and we still had the opportunity to be up,” said Howard.
“It’s always good to see that you’re up by ten. Just that extra bit of cushion, it’s good to see that in case because you’re going to have some type of little breakdown in a game of 40 minutes,” said Robinson.
Both teams were streaky and had trouble shooting throughout the game, but it remained close.
The Lady Bobcats led the Lady Dons 18-12, but a Gordon three-pointer and a Vania Singleterry layup off of a Tenishia Benson turnover completed a USF 5-0 run. That made the score 18-17.
The Lady ‘Cats responded with a 16-0 run and ended the first frame on 19-5 run, for a 37-22 halftime lead. During that streak, Ohio’s field goal percentage improved 10 percent, from 29 to 39 percent. Ten of their last 19 points were inside the paint; the only points inside the paint they had all game.
In the first half, Ohio’s ability to make the longer-distance shots kept them ahead. Ashley Fowler went 2-3 from three-point range and was assisted by Shavon Robinson’s 4-5 shooting from the field in the first half.
Both teams shot under 40 percent for the game, San Francisco shot 38 and Ohio shot 34 percent. San Francisco’s bench stepped up with 33 points to Ohio’s 14, but the Lady Bobcats had a 18-9 advantage in second chance points.
Ohio had solid contributions in points and rebounds from four players. Shavon Robinson had 15 points and 6 rebounds, Tenishia Benson tallied 15 points and nine rebounds, Alesia Howard contributed 13 points and seven rebounds and Ashley Fowler added 11 points and five rebounds.
Randall praised the play of Howard and Robinson.
“They just made things happen for us. They kept the ball alive, so we were able to get more possessions and then they finished plays, that they’ve had a times trouble struggling to do that. They didn’t turn the basketball over… it was good to see them handling the pressure and have good poise and go out there and finish plays and then they stepped up and knocked free throws down for us.”
Aundrea Gordon paced the Lady Dons with 14 points. Rheina Ale and Bailey Barbour tallied 10 points.
Ohio improves to 4-5 while San Francisco drops to 1-10 on the season. Ohio’s next game is Tuesday against Niagara at 7 p.m. in the Convocation Center, their last game before the Duel in the Desert in Las Vegas where they will play top-notch competition.
Randall talked about how the team needs to prepare before the Duel.
“Biggest thing is it’s a mental practice. The way we design the schedule is to get us ready for a three-day stretch in Vegas, so this is perfect for them. I know they’re legs are shot a little bit and that’s fine, but we still have to learn how to push through.”