Ohio’s Erica Johnson (4) drives for a basket at Kent State on March 4, 2020. (PHOTO: Sydney Korinek/WOUB)

Ohio Women’s Basketball: Bobcats drop nail-biter at Kent State, 81-77.

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KENT, Ohio– With the MAC Tournament around the corner, every game is important. Ohio’s Wednesday night matchup vs Kent State was no exception in a game that was crucial for the Bobcats to clinch a first-round bye to Cleveland

From the tip it seemed to be the Johnson show. Redshirt- sophomore Erica Johnson was electrifying in the first half. After a brief exit in the beginning of the second quarter due to injury, Johnson went on to shoot 10 of 11 from the floor and 2 of 3 from behind the arc, totaling 25 of the Bobcats’ 39 first half points.

With yet another game where foul trouble seemed to be the storyline for the Bobcats, junior guard Cece hooks spent a majority of her first half managing three fouls.

The Bobcats headed into halftime with a 39-37 advantage.

The Flashes came out hot, jumping to a 51-40 lead before back-to-back layups from Amani Burke and Cece Hooks silenced the crowd. The Bobcats struggled to keep a steady momentum offensively. A large factor in that was Kent State holding Johnson to just two points in the third quarter.

The Flashes had a 62-51 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

The Bobcats rebounding woes continued in the fourth, giving multiple offensive rebounds up to the flashes in a row. A missed rebound led to Amani Burke picking up her fifth foul at the seven-minute mark of the fourth quarter. Burke exited the game with 14 points.

Although struggling to come up with defensive rebounds, Ohio was able to hold the flashes scoreless until Kent’s Megan Carter sunk a pair of free throws at the four-minute mark. The bobcats were able to battle back and keep the flashes on their toes.

This matchup once again came down to the final minute. With 13 seconds left in regulation, Caitlyn Kroll hit a go ahead three putting the Bobcats ahead, 77-76. The Flashes then marched down the court and drew a foul, leaving 8 seconds on the clock. Kent State connected on both free throws, and edging Ohio, 78-77. Coach Bob Boldon called for a timeout and advanced the ball. The ball was inbounded to Erika Johnson who drove baseline but was called for an offensive foul. Kent State went on to win it, 81-77, and clinch the regular season MAC East title.

Despite the Bobcats dropping their fourth straight game, Erica Johnson continues to impress on the offensive end, finishing the game with 36 points.

Senior Amani Burke shed some light on the importance of their final regular season game and what the bobcats need to remember heading into tournament time.

“On Saturday I want everyone to remember how we got here and remember how good we are,” Burke said. “This is our last regular season game and we have the potential so much better than what have been doing.”

She wants her teammates to go out on the court and leave everything they have and have fun.

The Bobcats return home to Convocation Center for one final time this year on Saturday for a Senior Day showdown with the Miami RedHawks. Tip-off for the final game of this season’s Battle of the Bricks is set for 1 p.m.