Ohio Women’s Basketball: Bobcats Claim MAC East Crown With Win Over BGSU< < Back to
As the fourth quarter began, Ohio found themselves in a battle with Bowling Green. Despite the Falcons last place standing in the MAC, they had given the Bobcats all they could handle in the first 30 minutes.
When Bowling Green tied the game at 62 with 9:02 to play on Sydney Lambert’s fourth 3-pointer of the game the Bobcats needed to bolster up a unit that has been inconsistent all season: their defense.
And the Bobcats’ defense answered the call.
Over the final nine minutes, Ohio held the Falcons to just six points, just 2-for-11 from the field and forcing five turnovers all while the Bobcats scored 14 points of their own to pull away late.
Ohio (25-4, 14-4 MAC) clinched the MAC East Championship with their 76-68 win over Bowling Green (9-20, 2-16 MAC) on Saturday afternoon, sending seniors Dom Doseck, Kendall Jessing, Olivia Bower and Hannah Thome off with a win in their final game in the Convocation Center.
“We picked up our ball pressure. We tried to make it more difficult to find their shooters,” Ohio head coach Bob Boldon said. “I thought we did a better job of guarding without needing much help, especially in the fourth quarter.”
For the first four minutes of the game, however, it looked as if the Bobcats could run away with the game.
The Bobcats jumped out to an early 9-0 lead, highlighted by Doseck’s shot clock buzzer-beating three from the middle of the first ‘O’ in Ohio.
“I heard people yelling three, so I turned and launched it,” Doseck said. “I had no idea where I was (on the court). I figured that was going to be as open as I would get for that shot.”
But Bowling Green battled back, outscoring Ohio 18-12 over the final 5:39 to cut the Bobcat lead to three, 21-18, heading into the second.
For much of the night, Ohio struggled to keep up with the Falcons’ pace on the offensive end. Bowling Green was getting open looks from three for much of the first three quarters and was hitting them at a high rate (52.9 percent).
“They have tempo the whole game. They never stop trying,” Ohio guard Cece Hooks said. “It’s really tough to play a team like that doesn’t give up on any plays. They’re pretty tough.”
Bowling Green came back to take the lead a couple times in the second and third quarters, but were never able to maintain an advantage as the Bobcats’ offense was able to score consistently enough to make sure that there would be no Senior Day upset.
The Bobcats can thank their balanced offensive attack for that. Four players finished in double figures for Ohio.
Leading the way with her game high 22 points was Hooks, but it wasn’t her offense that had her coach talking after the game.
“Yes, this is the year she should be named MAC Defensive Player of the Year. She’s tremendous. People get to the point where they don’t dribble when she’s guarding them. It’s insane,” Boldon said. “She 100% effects the game on the defensive end.”
Hooks, who leads the MAC in steals, added four more Saturday afternoon to bring her regular season total to 91. She also blocked two shots on the day.
Also in double figures were Amani Burke with 17 points, Erica Johnson with 15 and Gabby Burris with 11. Johnson also tallied eight rebounds, five assists and three steals.
In their final home games, Doseck finished with six points while Bower and Jessing both added two.
With the victory on Saturday, the Bobcats locked up the No. 2 seed in next week’s MAC Tournament, giving them a first round bye.
“It means a lot (to have a bye),” Doseck said. “Especially for all of us who play a decent amount of minutes, because that means we will be able to save our legs.”
With the No. 2 seed comes the MAC East crown, something that few thought would reside in Athens in the preseason. The Bobcats were picked to finish third, behind Buffalo and Miami, in the division.
“To be able to come out on top on our side is a big accomplishment,” Doseck said.
“We shocked a lot of people,” Hooks added. “Ain’t nobody expected us to be so good this year.”
But the Bobcats will still have a lot to prove next week in Cleveland. Their season has ended each of the last three years in the quarterfinals of the MAC Tournament.
Ohio will face the winner of Northern Illinois and Western Michigan in Quicken Loans Arena next Wednesday with a chance to erase three years worth of bad luck in the quarter finals.