Cece Hooks lines up a shot in the Bobcats 77-61 loss to Buffalo in the MAC Championship Game on March 16, 2019. PHOTO: Michael Roth/WOUB

Ohio Women’s Basketball: Improved Offense Not Enough for ‘Cats in MAC Title Game

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The last time Ohio and Buffalo squared off, it was ugly for the Ohio offense in all facets of the game. Ohio shot barely more than 20 percent from the field and was held to a season-low 43 points.

Buffalo controlled the entire game and walked out of Athens with a 30 point victory that sent a message to the league. After that, Ohio bounced back and won five straight games to set up a third contest with Buffalo this season.

Cece Hooks led the Ohio charge offensively with 24 points on 10-19 shooting from the field. This came after a one-point, 0-for-7 performance February 27 in Athens.

“I wasn’t being quite aggressive in the first half and second half I just picked it up,” Hooks said. “Coach Bob said, like get it in, can’t nobody stop me if I just play my game.”

Amani Burke and Dominique Doseck had solid offensive games as well, the guard combo combined for 26 points on almost 50 percent shooting from the field and hit six 3-pointers. Those two bounced back from a combined 7-of-23 outing the last time out against the Bulls.

“Just attack, like just keep attacking because they try to take away the passing lanes,” Hooks said. “Like they move to the corners and stuff. We just decided to like drive to the middle and kick”

Erica Johnson was basically the only Ohio centerpiece who didn’t massively improve her offensive performance. After getting shut out in the first battle, Johnson was 1-of-10 from the floor and had four points. This comes after back-to-back 18 point, 10 rebound games in the quarterfinal and semifinal games for the Bobcats.

Ohio as a team shot 22-of-56 from the floor and 9-of-28 from beyond the arc. This led the Bobcats to score 61 points which, despite being well below their season total, was good enough to compete with Buffalo on a usual offensive night.

The problem for Ohio was that Buffalo didn’t have a usual offensive night. Buffalo shot 13-of-29 from three-point range with Hanna Hall leading the way with five triples. Cierra Dillard hit four of her eight three-point attempts and had 22 points and five assists.

“You’ve got to give Hanna Hall and Courtney Wilkins a lot of credit for making those shots,” Ohio Head Coach Bob Boldon said. “I don’t know that we intended on leaving them wide open.”

Down low Ohio got beat up on the glass, Buffalo outrebounded the Bobcats by 17 and Summer Hemphill was the main reason for that discrepancy. Hemphill ended the game with 16 points and 21 rebounds.

Ohio now plays the waiting game until Monday night, when they will see if they get the chance to play in the NCAA tournament. Most current bracket projections have the Bobcats in the tournament but with not much room to spare.