Ohio Women’s Basketball: ‘Cats hot streak continues in win over Akron

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Four days in between games was not enough to cool off the Bobcats.

Coming off of a 94-62 win over Ball State last Saturday, Ohio (19-2, 8-2 MAC) came out firing on all cylinders offensively and coasted to a 92-70 win over Akron (12-8, 3-6 MAC) on Wednesday night.

“We had a great game Saturday, energy wise. We told ourselves that we wanted to withhold that energy and come out just like we did against Ball State,” Ohio guard Erica Johnson said. “It showed in the first five minutes.”

In just the first 5:17 of the game, the Bobcats had already built a 10-point lead, leading the Zips 19-9. Ohio would never let Akron any closer the remainder of the game. The ‘Cats closed the first quarter on a 20-6 run and led 28-13 heading into the second quarter.

Johnson tossed in 11 points in the first 10 minutes of the game, going 3-for-3 from beyond the arch.

“We’re letting Erica be Erica,” Ohio head coach Bob Boldon said. “We just let her go.”

The redshirt freshman finished the game with 22 points, 11 rebounds and five assists after only scoring one point in last Saturday’s win.

“Once you see those first couple shots go in, you keep shooting,” Johnson said. “I’ve been improving my jumper and my confidence has always been there.”

Since the loss last Wednesday to Miami, a game where the Bobcats only scored three points in the fourth quarter,  the offense has been lights out. In seven of the last eight quarters, Ohio has scored an average 23.3 points, which is equals in a game to more than 10 points over their season average of 82.7 points per game.

“This team has generally been very, very unselfish,” Boldon said. “They have a sense for who has it going, taking good shots and moving (the ball) to get good shots. This year, this team has taken the highest quality of shots I’ve seen in a long time.”

Unselfish is a good way to put it. The Bobcats registered assists on over 60 percent (19-of-31) of their made shots Wednesday night. That also comes after assisting on 28-of-35 made baskets this past Saturday.

“They’re very willing to pass it to the next person if she’s open,” Boldon said. “It’s one of their greatest qualities offensively, their willingness to share. There’s not a lot of egos.”

Despite Ohio’s hot shooting to start the game, the Zips were able to creep back within 11 points late in the second quarter.

This would become a trend for the rest of the game. Every time the Bobcats pushed their lead out near 20, Akron would claw their way back.

In the third, the Bobcats led 62-40 with 3:55 to play and the Zips cut that lead down to 13, 69-56, heading into the fourth. Akron scored the first points of the final quarter to cut the Ohio lead to 10, but the Bobcats would finish of the Zips for good with a 13-2 run over just 2:34.

“We just didn’t get stops. It’s easy to get in to that when you’re comfortable,” Boldon said. “When you’re up double figures, it’s hard to stay focused on both ends. That’s why I was happy with fourth quarter. We were able to get some separation again and a couple stops in a row.”

Four of the five starters for the Bobcats finished with double-figure scoring nights. Along with Johnson, Gabby Burris topped the 20 point plateau with 21 points and three rebounds. It was Burris’ first game scoring 20 or more points since the Dec. 22nd win over Richmond.

Amani Burke followed up her record-breaking performance on Saturday with a 15-point, four-rebound outing and Cece Hooks rounded out the double-digit scorers with 15 points.

As a team, Ohio tossed in 14 threes, finished 14-of-33, their sixth game of the year with 13 or more made threes.

“It’s how well our offense works together,” Bobcat forward Gabby Burris said. “We’re all moving the ball. It gives us multiple people wide open on the three-point line.”

Next up for the Bobcats is a trip to Central Michigan. The Chippewas defeated Ohio in Athens 88-70 back on Jan. 9th. Ohio and Central Michigan are currently tied, along with Buffalo, atop the MAC standings with 8-2 records in conference play. Tip-off in Mt. Pleasant is set for 1 p.m. on Saturday.