Cierra Dillard carries the basketball for Buffalo. The Ohio University women’s basketball team lost to the University at Buffalo 73-43 in Athens, Ohio on Feb 27, 2019.

Ohio Women’s Basketball: Bobcats’ Offense Falls Flat Against Buffalo

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ATHENS — When the Bobcats’ offense went cold in Toledo two weeks ago, shooting just 24 percent in a 26-point loss to the Rockets, it could be written off as a fluke.

However, after Wednesday night’s performance in the Convo, what was a fluke could prove to be something much worse as the ‘Cats season quickly winds down.

Ohio (22-4, 11-4 MAC) set a new season-low, shooting just 20.3 percent from the field and suffering their worst loss of the season to Buffalo (18-8, 10-5 MAC), losing 73-43.

“The frustration of not making baskets, you see a little bit of that in how we handled it (in both games). Because we’re used to scoring,” Ohio head coach Bob Boldon said. “(When players are missing shots) It’s like wait, what’s going on? This is odd. I think processing that is a little bit of a challenge I think.”

It was evident early on that Buffalo’s 2-3 zone was causing problems for the Ohio offense. Not only did it force the Bobcats to turn the ball over four times in the opening quarter, it was forcing them into taking more threes than they might have liked. The ‘Cats may have made two of their first three from long range, but closed the first quarter just 3-of-10 from distance. Add to that that they made just one shot from inside the arc and you have the ingredients for a bad offensive night right from the jump.

“We didn’t have the focus or desire to step on somebody’s throat today,” Ohio senior Dom Doseck said. “I think that showed in the 30-point loss.”

Ohio last grabbed their last lead of the game, 13-12, with 2:22 left in the first quarter. Buffalo retook the lead 27 seconds later, closing the quarter on a 6-0 over the final 1:55.

The Bulls continued that run in the opening minute of the second quarter, extending their lead to 12 before the Bobcats could respond. Amani Burke ended the 13-0 run with a 3, but the sophomore made the only two Bobcat field goals in the second, while the Bulls continued to pull away. Buffalo used the Bobcats poor shooting to their advantage, their lead ballooning to 19 by halftime.

The second half was much of the same for the Bobcats’ offense, going just 6-of-35 from the field in the final 20 minutes.

In total, Ohio made just 12 of their 59 shot attempts, but only 3 of those game from inside the three-point line. The Bobcats finished 3-for-20 from point-blank range and 0-of-8 from midrange.

“We have to attack more and be strong with the ball, trying to draw fouls instead of running into people or turning the ball over,” Burke said. “We have to focus on being able to drive down the lane, or baseline, a just making sure we can pass to open lanes.”

“But we won’t play anyone else that plays like Buffalo plays. They’re one of the best defensive teams in our league because they play really hard and have long athletes,” Boldon said. “There’s a uniqueness to what they do.”

Amani Burke was the lone bright spot for the Bobcats on Wednesday night, scoring 19 points and grabbing 7 rebounds. Burke finished the night 6-of-17 from the field while no other Bobcat made more than two field goals. The other four Ohio starters combined to go just 2-of-24.

“We never really got into any kind of rhythm. We had a hard time attacking (their zone). We had a hard time getting to the basket on balance and getting good shots at the rim,” Boldon said. “Just a little bit too passive, a little too tentative with our decision making.”

On the other side, Buffalo’s leading scorer, and the third leading scorer in the country, Cierra Dillard did all she could to make sure the Bobcats couldn’t come back. The junior put up a game-high 35 points. She made one more basket, 13, than the entire Bobcat team.

Ohio will have a couple of days to regroup before heading to Akron, but the team knows this can still be a special season.

“We’ve been teetering on the line of whether we’re a good team or a great team,” Boldon said. “As we start to put this season together, we’ve raised our expectations.”

“I think it will make a great story when we win (the MAC Tournament),” Burke said. “I think we can still win.”

The Bobcats will look to get back in the win column on Saturday in Akron. Ohio handled the Zips at home, winning by 22 in the Convo on February 6, but road matchups in the MAC are always tough. Tip-off at the JAR is set for 5 p.m.