Women’s Basketball Preview: By the Numbers

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After wielding off a fierce, yet mediocre by comparison Wheeling Jesuit team last Thursday night in exhibition play, Ohio Women’s Basketball looks forward to Cleveland State on Tuesday night. 

Ohio was forced into overtime against Wheeling Jesuit, ranked a preseason 12th in the WVIAC Conference, and required a game-winning basket by freshman Lexie Baldwin to clinch the victory. The Bobcats shot 37 percent for the game and received their largest offensive contributions from sophomore Mariah Byard and senior Tina Fisher, who had 17 and 14 points, respectively.

The Bobcats found themselves ranked fourth in the MAC East for the preseason, behind Miami, Bowling Green and Akron, yet ahead of Kent State and Buffalo. This is how the Bobcats finished the season last year, with a 6-10 record in the conference and a 14-18 overall record. Toledo, Central Michigan, and Eastern Michigan top the MAC West preseason ranks.

Ohio looks to senior leadership in Tina Fisher, Ashley Fowler, and Symone Lyles, yet sophomore guard Mariah Byard looked like the adhesive of this Bobcat squad on Tuesday, leading the team with four assists, while shooting just under 50 percent from the field. Fisher grabbed eight boards, along with her 14 points, and shot 80 percent from the free-throw line; Lyles grabbed an offensive and defensive rebound, while putting up eight points. 

Last season, when the Bobcats shot below 40 percent, they were 8-14 on the year. Comparatively, when they shot 40 percent or higher, they were 6-3. 

The team shot an impressive 50 percent from three-point range on Thursday, going 6-12 from behind the arc; last year’s team made 145 three-point field goals, ranking them eighth in the program’s history. Also ranking eighth in program history last year was the team’s free throws, totaling 410 on the season; on Tuesday, the team made 20, going 77 percent from the line. 

Freshmen Lexie Baldwin and Kiyanna Black got playing time on Thursday night, and Baldwin finished her 11 points with the game-winning layup in overtime to defeat the Cardinals. With zero turnovers and six boards in roughly 35 minutes of play, Baldwin looked years above her playing ability. Black, on the other hand, took a team-high 16 shots, converting on only four of them and finished with eight points on the night. 

Ohio had one of its best records in recent history last year, rising above years of single-digit win seasons. With a 6-10 record in the MAC last season, including noteworthy wins over Bowling Green and Akron, the Bobcats look to improve their record in MAC and non-conference play. The Bobcats defeated Xavier last season in double-overtime, a notable win against a Musketeers team that often contends for a spot in the postseason tournament. 

Last season, the Bobcats played Cleveland State and lost 66-56. If they take a first-half lead, like they did against the Cardinals, the odds are in their favor; when taking a first half lead just a year ago, the Bobcats were 13-4, yet when trailing at half, they were 1-13. 

The Bobcats play Tuesday night at 7 p.m. in the Convo.