Updated Fri, Jan 31, 2014 10:45 am
The Ohio Bobcats (8-11, 3-5) did not look intimidated by the first-place Bowling Green Falcons (17-3, 7-1) Thursday night. The ‘Cats scrambled for loose balls and knocked down contested drives near the hoop, but their hot shooting cooled off halfway through the second half, allowing the Falcons to pull away and pick up the win, 78-62.
With eight minutes left in the game, Ohio shot 1 of 10 from the field, while Bowling Green connected on five of seven attempts and outrebounded the ‘Cats 11-2. The energy remained abundant for Ohio and the shots it took were open, but they just would not fall the Bobcats’ way.
Bowling Green forward Alexis Rogers, who left the game with an apparent elbow injury four minutes into the second half, returned later in the half and dominated the paint, totaling 20 points, seven boards and five assists.
Aside from poor shooting, Ohio sent Bowling Green to the charity stripe 14 times in the second half, where the Falcons made 12 of their attempts. Freshman Queira Lampkins, who fouled out with five minutes to play, expressed frustration with the new hand-check rule.
“I feel like one game they’re calling the hand-check and one game they’re not,” Lampkins said. “You know they’re calling [hand-checks,] but you still end up touching them.”
Head coach Bob Boldon admitted that his team hit a wall in the latter portion of the second half.
“You can’t score and you can’t stop them from scoring. It makes a competitive game get real ugly, real quick,” Boldon said.
Bowling Green’s offense looked automatic from the start of the game, hitting four of its first five shots en route to a 10-3 run. The Falcons sent their forwards to the top of the key, forcing Ohio’s defenders to scramble. The ‘Cats managed to stick to their assignments, but their switch defense created mismatches all over the floor and the Falcons took advantage.
Despite hitting four early 3-pointers, Ohio could not connect near the bucket. The size of Bowling Green’s forwards allowed it to control the glass.
The Falcons’ lead remained at 10 until the 12-minute mark. Boldon called a timeout to get his troops organized.
“It felt like we had to come together as a team,” Lampkins said.
Point guard Kat Yelle said Boldon assured his squad that they had the capability of beating a tough Bowling Green squad. His players responded quickly and with authority.
Ohio ripped off a 21-6 run after that timeout.
The ‘Cats could do no wrong on offense. Lampkins fearlessly attacked the bucket, putting her defenders on their heels. If Lampkins was not scoring, Yelle lowered her shoulder and attacked the hoop.
Bowling Green quickly realized Ohio’s tendency to drive the ball inside, but the ‘Cats responded with hot shooting from the outside. Hannah Boesinger and Destini Cooper each knocked down a pair of treys and contributed to the team’s 6 of 12 performance from downtown.
Defensively, Ohio provided quick help defense on Bowling Green’s forwards near the basket, but the Falcons hit enough shots to end the run and go into the half down, 35-31.
Coming out of the locker room, Ohio continued its aggression near the hoop. Yelle, Lampkins and Yamonie Jenkins, all 5-foot-9 or shorter, worked their way past Bowling Green’s post players.
As the half wore on, Ohio turned the ball over while not taking advantage of Bowling Green turnovers and once Falcon defenders shut down the paint for good, the ‘Cats went ice cold.
Boldon applauded his team’s effort, but insisted they are not satisfied.
“Our ultimate goal is to win the basketball game,” Boldon said. “These great efforts, who cares? If you’re in fifth place, then who cares? Your job is to win the game.”
The Bobcats get back to work on Sunday, with hopes of snapping their four-game losing streak when they travel to take on MAC West juggernaut Central Michigan.