Ohio Women Snag First MAC Win In Kent

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The Ohio women’s team can finally take the much-needed sigh of relief. After losing their last 11 games, one of the worst streaks in recent history, Ohio (6-18, 1-11 in the MAC) toppled Kent State (3-22, 1-11) 61-55, much in part due to Erin Bailes’ career-high 24 points. 

“It’s a sigh of relief right now, I think we had a bad connection, but I’m definitely happy for this group,” Ohio coach Semeka Randall said. “I thought from start to finish, we controlled the tempo of this game, we played hard, and we had less mental mistakes.”

Ohio shot a noteworthy 45 percent from the field, nearly 12 percent higher than its average, which ranks in the bottom ten of all Division I squads. Bailes made five 3s for Ohio, including four in the second half, as the Green and White shot 45 percent from beyond the arc, nearly 20 percent more than a typical outing.

“(It was) a great performance by Erin Bailes; she shot the heck out of the ball,” Randall said. 

For the bulk of the first half, Ohio kept it neck and neck with Kent State, truly pulling away in the final minute of the half when Bailes made one of two free throws and a jump shot on the Bobcats’ last possession to take a 24-21 halftime lead.

Coming out swinging in the second half of play, Ohio drained four shots from beyond the arc in the first five minutes of play and shot more than 80 percent in that span. Bailes separated the margin for Ohio, especially in the second half, leading the Bobcats with 16 points in the half alone.

With less than six minutes of play left, Ohio held a 12-point lead, a seemingly comfortable cushion to ride out a win. Yet, a pair of 3s by Kent State’s Tamzin Barroilhet and Ashley Evans, respectively, closed the gap to 6 with less than a minute left. This proved to be insufficient time for the Flashes, however, as the Green and White made important free throws down the stretch.

“At one point, when Kent State was going on a run, we were able to weather the storm in terms of handling it,” Randall said. “We were on a scoring drought, but it didn’t last as long as it usually does.”

Beyond containing Kent State on the defensive end with a particular zone defense that seemed to trip up the Flashes, Ohio’s offense seemed resurrected, with three players having double-digit point performances. Symone Lyles had 15 points, with 9 of those coming from 3-point baskets. Shavon Robinson added 12 points for the Bobcats.

“I said in my press conferences we need three people to step up, and Symone Lyles had a really good performance tonight,” Randall said. “It’s a relief to go back to Athens feeling good about yourself versus what went wrong.”

Ohio (6-18, 1-11 MAC) looks to take a fresh feeling of momentum back to the Convo on Saturday against Buffalo (8-17, 6-6), in hopes of beginning a win streak in conference play. Saturday will be the second-last home game before MAC Tournament play.