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PHOTO: Ben Weilgopolski/WOUB

Ohio Women’s Basketball: ‘Cats Blow By Miami for Third Straight Win

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OXFORD, OH — With 5:38 to play in the first quarter, MAC Player of the Year candidate Cece Hooks picked up her second foul and headed to the Bobcats’ bench with the Ohio leading by just two.

The next time the junior guard saw the floor was the beginning of the third quarter. At that time, Hooks, who led the Bobcats in scoring prior to Saturday, had not scored.

On the road against their arch-rival, this may seem like it would spell disaster for the ‘Cats.

Instead, Hooks’ first points of the day, with 7:52 to play in the third quarter, gave Ohio a 21-point lead.

Five Bobcats (16-7, 9-3 MAC), including Hooks, finished in double-figures as they completed a near wire-to-wire victory over the RedHawks (11-14, 4-9 MAC), winning their third straight in the ‘Battle of the Bricks’, 84-70, on Saturday afternoon in Millett Hall.

After Hooks checked out midway through the first, the Bobcats got an immediate spark from the player who came in for her, Edecia Beck. After Katie Barker hit a three to put the Bobcats on top 14-9, Beck rolled off six straight points herself to give Ohio a nine-point lead.

With another burst to close the quarter, the ‘Cats finished the first on a 20-7 run to jump out to a 13-point lead at quarter’s end, up 29-16. 

That run continued into the second quarter as Ohio began to run away from the RedHawks with an 11-2 run over the first five minutes of the quarter to explode out to a 40-19 lead. Erica Johnson paced the Bobcats in the second with 13 points, going 5-of-6 from the field while also grabbing four rebounds and dishing out an assist in that 10-minute span.

Johnson’s 17 first-half points, along with another 12 from Amani Burke, gave the Bobcats a 19-point lead, 48-29, heading into the locker room at halftime.

In the third quarter, with Hooks back on the floor, Ohio was able to push their lead out to a game-high 30 points. It wasn’t until the fourth quarter that the RedHawks finally pushed back.

Despite leading 69-43 heading into the final quarter, Miami started the quarter on a 19-5 run to draw within 12 points, forcing Bob Boldon to burn a timeout. Following the timeout, the ‘Cats responded with a 10-3 run to get the lead back out to 19 with 2:15 to play, icing the game away.

In the end, it was just a 14-point win for the ‘Cats, but they were never threatened by the RedHawks after the first quarter despite arguably their most important player playing a season-low 13 minutes.

Most of that is due to their strong defense in the first three quarters. In the first 30 minutes of the game, the RedHawks had scored just 43 points and were shooting just 36.2 percent (17-of-47) from the field. The Bobcats also forced 18 Miami turnovers in the first three quarters. This allowed them to build a lead that even a 7-for-7 shooting spurt for Miami to start the fourth could overcome.

On the offensive end, all five starters for the Bobcats finished in double-figures, being led by a game-high 23 points for Johnson. The sophomore guard also flirted with her second triple-double of the season, tallying nine assists and eight rebounds.

Barker hit five of her 10 three-point attempts to finish with 15 points, her first double-digit point performance since January 22 against Northern Illinois. Amani Burke stuffed her stat line, finishing with 14 points, four rebounds, three blocks, two steals, and an assist. 

Both Hooks and Gabby Burris finished with 13 points, with Burris also grabbing five boards and Hooks racking up six steals.

Next up for the Bobcats is a matchup with Toledo in the Convocation Center on Wednesday night. Last season, in their lone matchup with the Rockets, the Bobcats had one of their worst offensive performances of the season, shooting just 24 percent and making just two of their 26 attempts from long range.

That game is set to tipoff at 7 p.m.