Ohio Women’s Basketball Pushed to the Limit in OT Exhibition Game

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Opening the season in exhibition, the Ohio Bobcats women’s basketball team defeated the Wheeling Jesuit Cardinals 76-74 Wednesday on a game-winning shot by freshman Lexie Baldwin.

“I don’t know if she realizes how big of a shot it was,” said Head Coach Semeka Randall.

The first half was dominated by the Bobcats, who jumped out on an 8-0 run and would not trail during the half. Ohio’s lead grew to as much as 17 points in the first frame. The Bobcats led at the end of the first half 38-28.

Despite leading at the end of the first half, Ohio struggled from the field, only shooting 11-of-33. But they shot 91.7% on free throws in the first frame. The leading scorer in the first half for the Bobcats was Mariah Byard with eight points.

The second half was a different story. Ohio saw its 10 point lead slowly deteriorate, as Wheeling Jesuit came back to tie the game at 55 with 7:20 left in the half. Breanna Butler of Wheeling Jesuit would then make a pair of free throws and Ohio trailed for the first time in the game. But Baldwin and fellow freshman Kiyana Black scored consecutive baskets to give Ohio a 60-57 lead with four minutes to go. The Cardinals would cut the lead to one but Ohio’s Mariah Byard stepped up and hit a big three to put Ohio up 66-62. But Wheeling Jesuit would not be outdone by the Bobcats. The Cardinals erased the late deficit as Jaila Bryant made a two-point bucket to send the exhibition game to overtime at 66-66.

“I knew it would be a challenge,” said Coach Randall after the game.

After a back-and-forth overtime period, the score was tied at 74 with one minute left. The Bobcats came up with a big defensive stop to regain possession with 10 seconds remaining, and Baldwin went down the court and hit the game winner, a layup off a bounce pass from Byard. The Bobcats won the game 76-74.

Byard led Ohio in scoring with 17 points. “I thought we showed a lot of heart in pulling it out in the end,” said Byard on the team’s character.

Coach Randall added that her team has a lot of work ahead and some things that it needs to improve on.

The Ohio Bobcats open the regular season Nov. 13 at the Convocation Center against Cleveland State. Tipoff is at 7 p.m.