Published Wed, Dec 14, 2011 12:16 am Dateline
In Ohio’s first four wins of the season, the Bobcats held the lead after the first half. Against the Niagara Purple Eagles, it was no different. Ohio led 21-12 after the first 20 minutes, and went on to defeat Niagara 50-40 on Tuesday night.
The Bobcats took off early, leading 15-4 with just under ten minutes to go in the first half. A three by Kelly Van Leeuwen brought the Purple Eagles within five with about six minutes to go, but Ohio kept the pressure on to maintain the lead going into halftime. Another factor plaguing Niagara was turnovers. The Purple Eagles had 15 in the half and finished with 27 for the game.
Ohio used its first half lead as cushion to guide it to victory.
“It can be positive and it can be negative,” said Tenishia Benson. “Positively, we know how they are going to play it, so it’s really up to us. But then in the same sense, on the negative end, we can get complacent and slide off.”
Niagara got within six points at multiple points of the first half, but couldn’t push ahead despite shooting 52.2 percent from the field. While proud of her team’s win, head coach Semeka Randall was disappointed that the team allowed its opponent to shoot such a high percentage from the field.
“I’m not particularly happy with our second half performance,” said Randall. “It’s a repeat of our last game in terms of coming out lackadaisical.”
The Bobcats made up for what they lacked on defense at the free throw line. Ohio cashed on almost all the free points from the charity line that it was offered, going 17-20 for the ball game for 85 percent.
“I’ll tell you what helped in the second half was us making free throws down the stretch,” Randall said. “Shooting 14-16 for the second half, that’s why we won this basketball game.”
Another standout statistic for the ‘Cats was steals. The Bobcats finished the game with 18 steals, tying for eighth in program history for steals in a single game. Freshman guard Kat Yelle had six in the first half alone.
“Whenever you’re in the game, and see you one of your teammates gets a steal or you get a steal, it just creates a bunch of energy,” Yelle said.
Yelle only had one point, but made her impact on defense.
Benson led the Bobcats with 15 points and six rebounds, while Shavon Robinson and Porsha Harris both chipped in eight points. Yet, Ohio still has room to grow in terms offensive production and performing consistently for a full forty minutes. Randall thinks the issues are very fixable.
“You just have to show kids film,” Randall said. “They have to see themselves out there jogging or out there not doing what they need to do. Then we will go back to practice and keep demanding from them.”
After a three game home-stand, Ohio heads west to the "Duel in the Desert" in Las Vegas, Nev. where the team will face Oklahoma, Xavier and Syracuse. Randall said that the game against Oklahoma will be extremely physical and bring Ohio up against a talented point guard, a player who isn’t like anyone her team has ever seen before. The game against Xavier will come quick, and be a totally different match up.
“That game will be interesting,” Randall said. “They’re struggling a little bit, so it’s a game where it’s a great opportunity for us.”
On the third day of the trip, Ohio will see Syracuse, and see the zone defense, which has presented problems for the Bobcats in the past.
Each team brings a different perspective to the floor, but one thing all three teams have in common is that they will be tough competition for the young Ohio squad. Ohio hopes to play its best, and bring a ton of energy every time it takes the court.
“Definitely some tough competition,” said Yelle. “Just looking to play with them and just give it all we have from the get go.”