Ohio University Forward Hannah Boesinger drives toward the hoop on Wednesday, January 25, 2017. (WOUB / Drake S. Withers)

First Half Run Propels Bobcats Past Rockets

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Amidst blowing a late lead late in their loss at Central Michigan, it seemed like the Ohio Bobcats were still feeling the effects of the loss.

But at the 2:43 mark of the second quarter, they finally put the loss behind them and went on an 18-2 run to close the first half. From there, they took down the Toledo Rockets 61-55 Saturday afternoon to improve their record to 10-1 at the Convocation Center.

The Bobcats (17-5, 8-3) got off to a sluggish start, something they’ve grown to accustom to, as they shot just 2-of-13 from the field in the first quarter, allowing the Rockets (14-7, 5-5) to jump out to an early lead on the road.

Ohio head coach Bob Boldon looked on in dismay, as he’s seen this movie play out before. His team continued to miss shots and looked frustrated on offense, which led to lack of burst on defense.

“Our shooting percentage in the first quarter was atrocious,” Boldon said. “We got to seven points but I’m surprised by that we even got that many points. But that’s a credit to Toledo, a very good defensive team. They made us play a different style of offense today.”

Normally, Boldon just turns to his star guard Quiera Lampkins when his team is in an offensive rut, but the Rockets bottled up the Bobcats’ star. It looked as if the Rockets’ No. 1 scoring defense in the Mid-American Conference (62.2 points per game) had all the answers to anything the Bobcats tried to do offensively.

Boldon desperately needed a spark, and that’s when he caught lightening in a bottle with Katie Barker, who had enough watching the Rockets defense take away everything the

Bobcats were trying to do. Barker came in, knocked down back-to-back threes, finally jump starting the offense.

Not only did she get the offense going, she fueled the fire for the team defensively. Defense can be the best offense but that’s not the case for this team. The Bobcats finally saw the ball go through the hoop and that energized the defense.

Players were flying around, getting to defensive rotations, snagging every loose ball and forcing turnovers. Two minutes and 13 seconds of game later, the Bobcats go on an 18-2 run to end the half to take a nine-point lead into halftime and had the Rockets are on their heels.

Backs pinned against the wall, the Rockets stuck with their game plan. With four starters averaging double-digit points per game, it was only a matter of time before their offense found their rhythm.

The Rockets’ top three scorers Janice Monakana, Jay-Ann Bravo-Herriot and Mikaela Boyd had 30 of their 46 points in the second half to keep the Rockets very much alive on the road.

But the Rockets’ focus remained on the defensive end, as they continued to shut down Lampkins who finished with just 10 points on just 3-of-10 shooting.

Outside of Lampkins, the Bobcats don’t have a true second scoring option. But somehow, someway, the Bobcats were able to edge by the Rockets with their star having an off day.

With Jasmine Weatherspoon still a bit limited from an injury she suffered a few games ago, the Bobcats got a collective effort from the entire team. Hannah Boesinger, Yamonie

Jenkins and Amani Burke were all in double figures outside of Lampkins to help pace the Bobcats.

Boldon particularly noted how he’s happy that Boesinger has been receiving a lot more praise, as she’s been in double figures the past four games for the Bobcats.

“She does what Hannah does. Doesn’t need a lot of shots but she gets the job done,” Boldon said. “You guys are Finally starting to talk about her which is a reflection of the hard work she puts in everyday at practice.”

In spurts, they got nice stretches from Taylor Agler, Kelly Karlis and Barker to muster up enough points. It wasn’t pretty at times, but the Bobcats did just enough to pick up the scrappy victory.

Boldon is very excited about what this group can do in the MAC tournament because he sees a team that is still hungry to get better, crediting that to his group of seniors.

“This team is devoted to getting significantly better than last year’s team. We have seniors who are still trying to win who are leading the way for us,” Boldon said. “This team is hungrier than ever and I’m excited to see how it plays out and to see what we can do in Cleveland.”

The Bobcats will look to continue to build more momentum headed into Cleveland when they travel to take on a very tough Ball State team on Saturday. The Bobcats return back to the Convo next Wednesday against Eastern Michigan, hoping to avenge their loss back on Feb. 1.