Black, Bailes Lead Bobcats to First Road Victory

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Looking for their first win on the road this season, as well as their third straight win, Ohio (4-5) defeated the Marshall Thundering Herd (5-5), 55-48. Led by guards Erin Bailes and Kiyanna Black, Ohio was able to rebound after being down by double-digits in the first half.

Returning to her hometown of Huntington, West Virginia, Bailes took advantage of the backyard atmosphere, converting on six threes, five of which were in the second half. She led the team with 18 points, while Black had 16 points.

“I was feeling it today. It felt good to be back in front of everybody and it’s always nice to get that win over Marshall,” said Bailes.      

Marshall had the pregame advantage, with a 2-0 record at Cam Henderson Center this season, on top of a winning record overall, which included a win over MAC foe, Ball State.

“It’s a road win; we haven’t had one in quite some time,” said head coach Semeka Randall.

Assistant coach Jeffery Marshall took the win one step further.

“To our kids’ credit, they stepped up to the challenge,” said Marshall. “In my opinion, it’s the biggest win for us this season.”

Ohio shot 30% from the field in the first half, led by Black’s 12 first half points; she shot 5-12 from the field, and scored the Bobcats’ first 10 points. For nearly four-and-a-half minutes, Marshall went on a 12-0 run, a pattern that the Bobcats routinely gave up. Yet, fueled by another double-digit performance by Black, the Bobcats were able to stay in the game, helped by two key threes by Byard and Bailes toward the end of the half.

The Bobcats had the chance to increase their lead with less than five minutes of play in the first half, but four missed layups plagued the Bobcats from extending a lead past two points. Each team finished the half with 24 apiece.

A different Ohio team emerged in the second half, powered by the Bailes’ performance from beyond the arc. After a fast break three to open the second half, the Herd’s defense could not contain Bailes’ finest game this season.

“On her home turf, it’s really special for her,” said Randall of Bailes. “It’s great to see her as a junior have mentality to stay the course. It didn’t work out for her in the first half, but she stayed in tune with the game and made some big plays in the second half.”

Less than a month ago, Bailes and Black were bench players who saw limited playing time and even less contribution to the team. With breakout performances in the Bobcats’ game against Detroit, Bailes and Black have proven they are no fluke in the starting lineup, scoring in the double-digits in nearly every game since.   

“KB [Black] comes out in the first half and she has no fear,” said Marshall. He said her persistence after being down early rubbed off on the team, who did not trail in the second half. 

The juggernaut was not offense for the Bobcats, as far as total points, but Coach Marshall believes this performance exceeded any of Ohio’s games this season.

“Although we only scored 55 points, offensively, I think we played better this game,” said Marshall. Seven points by Mariah Byard and six by Simone Lyles, who also had five boards, responded the seeming one-sidedness to the scoring trend.

Alex’ie Baldwin added six boards and Shavon Robinson had three rebounds and steals, respectively. Although both only added two points each, their ability to help on all aspects of the ball contributed to the win.  

“We’re not allowing one person 100% for 40 minutes; we’re allowing shifts,” added Marshall, contributing Ohio’s winning streak, as well as a boost in confidence, to a shift in the Bobcat strategy.  

Shay Weaver led the Thundering Herd with 13 points and eight boards, accompanied by Chukwuka Ezeigbo’s 10 points. Marshall failed to lead in the second half and was beset by a sub-20% three-point percentage.   

After starting 1-5 through their first six games, Ohio looks like a reinvigorated squad, winning three of their four games in the month of December. They travel to New York City for a two-game road trip against Manhattan and LIU Brooklyn this weekend for their final two games of the calendar year.