Erica Johnson (left), 4, Dominique Doseck, 10, Amani Burke, 3, Cece Hooks 1, and Gabby Burris, 41, stretch and strategize during their timeout in the second half of their game against Western Michigan on Saturday February 16, 2019. The Ohio Bobcats defeated the Broncos 70-56. (HANNAH SCHROEDER/ WOUB)

Ohio Women’s Basketball: ‘Cats Bounce Back With Defensive Win Over WMU

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The Bobcats needed to rebound in a big way. After a disappointing loss to Toledo on February 13 in which Ohio only shot just 24 percent from the field, the ‘Cats needed to get back on track on the offensive end.

The first quarter came and went, but the offense was still struggling, so the Bobcats switched their focus.

The Ohio defense forced 10 turnovers in 2nd quarter en route to a game-changing 22-7 run to close the quarter, giving the ‘Cats (21-3, 10-3) a lead they would never relinquish in their 70-56 win over Western Michigan (8-14, 2-9) on Saturday afternoon in the Convo.

“Our defense is where our energy starts. As soon as someone gets a steal, gets the ball pressure, everything that is a part of our defense just brings more energy and it transfers over to the offensive end,” Bobcat guard Gabby Burris said. “It makes offense easier.”

The Bobcats got their offense back on track in the second quarter on the backs of eight steals. Starting with an Erica Johnson rip at the top of the three point arch that led to an easy layup on the other end, Ohio scored 14 points off of Bronco turnovers in the second quarter alone.

The Ohio defense took what was a 17-14 Western Michigan lead and turned it into a 36-24 Bobcat lead going into halftime.

“(The defense) gave us a chance to win the game today,” Bobcat head coach Bob Boldon said.

The Bobcats finished with 24 points off of 21 takeaways while also holding the Broncos to just 38 percent shooting.

“It was huge for us tonight. We had a really difficult time scoring in the half court and sometimes just seeing the ball go through the basket, even if it’s an uncontested layup, helps a little bit. That helped us on a night where we didn’t shoot it well again” Boldon said. “At least we got some layups.”

For the second straight game, the Bobcats failed to make at least 10 three pointers. That marks only the second time they’ve failed to reach that total in consecutive games since the calendar flipped to 2019. Ohio is just 9-of-52 (21 percent) from beyond the arch in their last two games, which is well below their season average of 37 percent.

“I don’t know what it is, exactly. We’re clearly a good shooting team. We have a body of work that says we’re a good shooting team,” Boldon said. “There’s going to be some ebbs and flows, but it really sticks out when it’s two consecutive games.”

Even given the defensive strength the Bobcats showed today, there were still some teaching moments in the second half.

The Bobcats came out of the locker room for the third quarter and committed three early turnovers and gave up a quick nine points to the Broncos and Boldon had seen enough.

Boldon sent five girls to the scorer’s table with just over six and a half minutes to play in the third. The Bobcats’ starting five would sit for all but 19 seconds of the final 5:50 of the quarter.

“Their inability to play any form of defense (led them being benched),” Boldon said. “They needed to try harder.”

So what goes through the starters mind when there’s five subs waiting to come in?

“I screwed up,” Burris said.

“It doesn’t feel good coming out,” Bobcat senior guard Dominique Doseck said.

When the starters returned to the game, they seemed to have gotten the message from their coach. For the final 19 seconds of the third all the way to the 4:27 mark of the fourth, the Bobcats didn’t give up a single point to Western Michigan.

During that span, Ohio went on a 10-0 run to push their lead back out to 15 after the Broncos had cut it to five with 1:25 to play in the third.

The Bobcats were led by a trio of players that finished with 15 points. Doseck and Burris were joined by Cece Hooks to lead the team. Doseck also tied a career high with six steals. Hooks came one rebound short of a double-double, finishing with nine rebounds.

Ohio will have a full week off before they travel to Kent State next Saturday, and according to Doseck, the bye week couldn’t have come at a better time.

“It’s much needed. It will let us get refocused and recover,” Doseck said. “It will let us get a new mindset going into these last couple games and the tournament.”

“This is just the pre-grind,” Burris added. “This is just the start. Once you get to tournament time…that’s the real grind.”

Tip-off at Kent State is set for 2 p.m next Saturday.