Bobcat Women Get Back In The Win Column

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The Bobcats regained their sense of fight on Thursday night, as they took down Eastern Kentucky (5-4) by a score of 69-58. Down by as much as 12 early, a first-half resurgence led by Erin Bailes and Symone Lyles carried the Green and White into the second half, where they never trailed.

Ohio (2-5) looked like a revived team, fueled by the desire to end a losing streak of five games and record its first victory since the Nov. 13 opener against Cleveland State.

“It always feels good to get that monkey off your back, in terms of getting a win. It wasn’t pretty, but we got it done,” said head coach Semeka Randall.

Considerably different for Ohio was the starting lineup, where Randall started guards Erin Bailes and Kiyanna Black over Symone Lyles and Mariah Byard.

“It feels good to actually (play); it’s hard to be on the bench and watch. To be able to be in there, even if you’re not scoring, it’s good to be in there to make some passes, get some rebounds, it feels good,” said Bailes.

And with an elated win under her belt, Randall was quick to confirm that she will stick with her adjusted lineup for the foreseeable future.

“As of right now, I’m leaning towards that, but we’ll see as the season goes along,” said Randall. “Right now, it’s one game we tried this and I’m definitely going back to that same starting lineup as well as we move forward. But who knows, I have to find five people who are really motivated to give everything they got out there on the floor.”

Halfway through the first half, Ohio trailed by 12 after a four-and-a-half-minute scoring drought and 12 Colonel points off turnovers. But the “motivated” Bobcats stepped up to the tune of a 19-9 run in the last 5:08 of the half, fueled by two consecutive three-pointer’s made by Bailes and Lyles. The Green and White held Eastern Kentucky to two points off turnovers in the second half and shut down the fast break.

The Bobcats never trailed in the second half and led by as much as 11. Shavon Robinson had 10 of her 14 points in the second half. Black finished with 13 and Lyles and Bailes had 12 apiece.

Randall credits the defense for allowing these offensive opportunities. Ohio forced 26 turnovers, scoring 22 points off those takeaways. The Bobcats outrebounded Eastern Kentucky, as well as outscored them in the paint, both of which have become distant statistics from the Bobcat’s previous style of play.

“We really played off of our defense tonight and we haven’t done that, probably, all season,” said Randall. “It’s really good to give a conscious defensive effort.”

Robinson also contributes the shift in momentum to the Bobcats’ defensive effort.

“When you have energy defensively, getting rebounds, getting steals, that’s what starts our momentum,” said Robinson.  

Ohio’s aggressive defense undoubtedly led to aggression in the paint on offense as well. Against Detroit the Bobcats only made it to the line four times; Thursday Ohio went to the charity stripe a total of 29 times, converting on 22 attempts.

“Those opportunities were there. We opened up the lane and our kids took advantage of attacking the basket. We finished plays and were able to get a few and-one’s in there,” said Randall.

When asked about why this game was considerably different than the previous five for the Bobcats, Randall was blunt.

“I’m trying to figure this team out. They’re women, so you know how it goes,” she joked. For clarity Randall added, “They tend to have those moments where it depends on how we feel, and (it) creates so much energy when you have people sacrificing their bodies for the team like Tina (Fisher) did and Erin (Bailes), diving into the bleachers.”

Bailes dove into the Eastern Kentucky bench almost halfway through the second half, knocking over two of their bench players. Fisher kept herself on the court, but went to the hardwood for a loose ball soon thereafter.

“It showed that we wanted to win the game. I think we were going to do anything to get that win,” said Bailes.

The Bobcats face Morehead State (1-7) on Sunday at the Convo, hoping to build on Thursday’s effort and finish their last home game of the calendar year with a victory.