Bobcats guard Dom Doseck driving to the basket against Eastern Kentucky Sunday afternoon. | Nick Henthron WOUB |

Ohio women’s basketball: Bobcats rising; stay undefeated with rout of Eastern Kentucky

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If there’s a way to express a basketball game in numbers, differentials would be it. Turnover differential, fastbreak points differential, paint points differential, rebounding differential, bench points differential — if a team can win the majority of them, it’s a good sign towards their success in that game.

If they can win just about all of them, it’s a great sign.

Such was the case for Ohio women’s basketball team (3-0) Sunday, as they dominated every facet of the sport en route to a 100-60 win over the Eastern Kentucky Colonels (0-3).

The Bobcats were powered by their two leading scorers — Amani Burke and CeCe Hooks, who contributed 18 and 21 points, respectively. Erica Johnson also continued her impressive play off the bench, finishing with 19 points. Ohio enjoyed contributions up and down the roster as well, with five players scoring in double figures and every player who saw the court leaving their mark in the score sheet.

On the less glamorous end, Ohio continually stymied the Colonels, as they never allowed more than 21 points in a quarter, while forcing 18 turnovers. Hooks, who led the MAC in steals-per-game last season, tallied six takeaways on the day, intercepting passes and ripping ball handlers much like she has over her whole career.

Ohio played with an aggression that was evident from the first possession. Gabby Burris secured a defensive rebound in traffic before pushing the ball up the floor and setting up a Hooks drive. She missed her initial look, but battled to get her own miss before putting it back up and in. This aggressiveness on the glass and in the paint translated to numerous looks at the basket for the Bobcats, and ensured that Eastern Kentucky only had one shot per possession, as the Colonels would finish with only ten second chance points.

The Bobcats would parlay this commitment to playing strong inside to a strong start, as Ohio led 35-12 after the first frame.

Ohio piled up a rare 100-point game, as the offense has continued to flourish in this young season. Head coach Bob Boldon credited the team’s growth to increased IQ and commitment to finding the best shot.

“I think the biggest difference is our shot selection,” Boldon said. “I think we’re taking better shots, I think we’re taking easier shots and I don’t know if that’s a product of better movement, more patience, or a better understanding.”

The offensive output has not been the only thing that has grown — the entire team appears to be in sync on both sides of the ball. On defense, especially the first half, all five Bobcat defenders were on a string, as they made good rotations and didn’t hesitate to contest shots at the rim. The team’s trust in each other was evident in defensive rotations as well as in the quick ball movement displayed on offense, Ohio registered 20 assists on 32 field goals.

The Bobcats only lost one player from last year — point guard Taylor Agler. It gives the squad a unique opportunity to grow together and understand each other as players, knowing what their teammates would do and when they would do it. Boldon observed this growth, as he mentioned Gabby Burris and Hooks, two players who are entering their sophomore season.

“We played CeCe and Gabby a lot last year, and I think they’d even admit oftentimes they didn’t know what they were doing out there, but they were good basketball players and they were doing the best they could with the situation,” Bodlon said. “And both of them are more relaxed, they’re both better players, but they’re more relaxed, they’ve got a better understanding of what we are trying to do, they’re more patient. So I think that goes a long way.”

Ohio’s better understanding has led to better results, as multiple Bobcats are enjoying career years. Burke, Hooks, Burris and Olivia Bower are all seeing upticks in their scoring averages, with Hooks leading the team at 19 points-per-game.

Ohio led 74-39 after three quarters, so that provided some players who wouldn’t always see the court an opportunity for playing time. Redshirt freshman Kaylee Bambule capitalized on her opportunity, making four three-pointers to finish with 12 points. Bambule credited her teammates for her offensive explosion.

“I just see that one of our point guards has the ball, and I get to a corner as fast as I can,” Bambule said. “Because they’re going to get in the middle of the paint, they’re so good that people are going to crash them because they’re such a threat at the hoop that it’ll just set me up.”

Looking ahead, the Bobcats will see St. Bonnaventure on Nov. 23rd and Lamar the next day on the 24th as part of the Denver Thanksgiving Classic, while the Colonels will partake in the Junkanoo Jam on the 23rd against Florida State.