Updated Sat, Feb 18, 2012 8:07 pm
On Senior Day and Play4Kay Day, Ohio defeated Kent State 51-45 to improve to 5-8 in conference play and bring it one step closer to earning a chance to play a first round tournament game at home. It wasn’t a strong offensive performance for the ‘Cats, only shooting 14-58 from the field for 24.1 percent for the game, but Ohio took advantage on the defensive end to come out victorious.
“Well what can you say, defense,” head coach Semeka Randall said. “Sometimes you have to win with your defense, and definitely in the second half we won with our defense.”
The first half started close offensively, with both teams trading baskets. A three by Erin Bailes at almost the 10-minute mark started a 10-2 run for Ohio to put them up 18-8 with nine minutes to go in the first half. The Golden Flashes responded with a 6-0 run of their own, but Ohio pushed ahead to take a 29-18 lead going into the locker at halftime. The ‘Cats were tough on defense in the first half, forcing 16 turnovers by the Golden Flashes. Ohio also held the advantage on the boards, outrebounding Kent State 20-15. Kent State led in points in the paint 12-8, but Ohio had eight steals compared to Kent State’s three.
The second half remained close down the stretch. Kent was within four points just before the 12-minute mark and its offensive burst was mainly fueled by Leslie Schaefer. Schaefer finished with 13 points for the night. The Golden Flashes were only down three with just about five minutes to go, but Ohio again used their defense to guide them to the finish. The ‘Cats were able to turn good defense into offense by getting steals and turning them into points, and a lot of those points came from the charity line. Ohio was 20-26 from the free throw line for the game and finished with 16 steals. Ohio only shot 14.8 percent from the field for the second half and only had four field goals in the last twenty minutes. Yet, strong defense continued for the ‘Cats in the second half and Ohio forced 32 Kent State turnovers by the time 40 minutes had expired. Earning this win was key for Ohio in terms of seeding in the MAC tournament. The Bobcats sit at the eighth spot by themselves, meaning they would earn a home game for the first round of play if the tournament started today.
“Ill tell you a win is a win,” Randall said. “Sometimes you have to win them ugly and we know how to make a game sometimes ugly. You have to smile about that and not take away the effort that these players did."
Shavon Robinson led Ohio with 16 points and five rebounds and Tenishia Benson - Ohio's lone senior - scored 11 and nine rebounds.
“I think honestly it was just that second and third effort that coach Randall always tells us about," Robinson said. “You know if you miss that first back door that helpside is there for you to step up and make a defensive play. I think it was just about our effort out there really.”
Ohio stays at home for its next game on Wednesday when Bowling Green comes to town and then hits the road at the end of the week to take on Buffalo on the road on Saturday.