Published Wed, Jan 23, 2013 10:15 pm Dateline
A high-energy Bobcat team came out early in the Convo Wednesday night against Central Michigan, but an Ohio team that played its starters the vast majority of the minutes could not hold the Chippewas, losing, 74-56. Another double-digit performance by Kiyanna Black, the 11th time this season, could not help a fatigued and injured Bobcat squad.
Ohio (5-12, 0-5) dropped its fifth straight MAC contest, and its seventh of eight games, but optimism reigned for the Bobcats after their loss to Central Michigan (11-7, 5-0).
“It’s just one of these games where we are just going to have to, again, continue to figure out how to grind things out and keep playing hard,” head coach Semeka Randall said, “and we did that for most of the night. I’m proud of them.”
Ohio got off to a strong start, taking the ball away three times from the Chippewas in the first three minutes, but it was the beyond-the-arc shooting from Erin Bailes that sparked a fire for the Bobcats. After two 3’s from Bailes, Tina Fisher had an offensive rebound and layup that tied the game at 14 apiece. Three more turnovers for CMU ensued in its next three possessions.
Bailes put the Bobcats ahead for their first lead halfway through the first half, 17-16, with another deep trey, and the offensive toughness of the Green and White seemed to keep the game close early. Ohio shot 3-6 from three-point range through that point.
As the first half dwindled, the Bobcats relaxed their high-octane offense, looking noticeably tired from playing nearly all minutes during the half; Ashley Fowler played all 20 minutes.
With the game tied at 20, the Chippewas went on a 15-2 run, going into the locker room with a 35-22 advantage. In the run, the Bobcats lost the rebounding battle, 13-6. They kept the margin close early, but Ohio’s average rebounding margin of -8.2 per game proved daunting to its ability to contain loose balls in the paint. Ohio finished the game with 34 rebounds, 20 less than Central Michigan.
The trip to the locker room during halftime did not seem suitable enough time for rest, as the Bobcats looked much the same way they did towards the end of the first half. The minutes wore on the team as the game transpired.
“With the limited roster it’s difficult energy wise, because we get through the first ten minutes of the first half and we’re good, but you can start to notice us with a little bit of wear and tear,” Fisher, a senior, said.
CMU went on a 24-6 run from the 15-minute mark to the five-minute mark, a one-sided scoring trend that Ohio has become all to familiar with in the past few games. Randall commented that these runs are attributed to the inability to score, but remarked that timeouts and encouragement is how the coaching staff is coping with these struggles.
Ohio’s starters each had 33 minutes or more of playing time. Central Michigan’s Brandie Baker led her team with 25 minutes.
Bailes, a junior, ended the day with a team-high 12 points, followed by Black with 10 points. Seven players had eight points or less and Ohio’s bench accounted for only 11 points, compared to the Chippewas’ 35 points from reserves.
Central Michigan’s Crystal Bradford, five-time MAC West Player of the Week this year, was held to 10 points, but five of the Chippewas’ roster scored in double-digits. The Chippewas led in every recorded statistical category against the Bobcats.
Yet another injury occurred for Ohio during the game, as Fowler exited the contest late in the second half. Randall said the senior's toughness should prevent her from missing the next game against Ball State, but her status is uncertain. Sophomore guard Mariah Byard is still questionable for Sunday’s game, depending on the grade of her ankle.
A team that is continuing to lose games, as well as players, is surely demoralized but when asked how she would describe this team in its losing predicament, Randall commented, “gutsy,” adding that the high scoring of opponents and the streak doesn’t characterize this team.
“Give them credit, they’re waking up everyday and giving it their best so they’re being gutsy in a trial time right now,” Randall said. “Again, they’re not talking about it, but they’re just trying to step up and do what they can on their part.”
Ohio will take on Ball State at 2 p.m. on Sunday against Ball State, trying to win their first conference win in the MAC.