Johnson Bobcats Basketball
Erica Johnson (4) attempts a layup during the Bobcats’ 86-58 win over Toledo on February 19, 2020. PHOTO: Charles Hatcher/WOUB

Ohio Women’s Basketball: Johnson, Bobcats ride Second Half Comeback to win over Liberty

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It has no doubt been a crazy last eight months for the Bobcats.  Ohio last played a game on March 11 at the MAC Tournament in Cleveland and was scheduled to play again in the MAC Semifinals on March 13.  Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit and halted everything in the sports world, including the Bobcats’ season.

After an unusual offseason filled with uncertainty, the Bobcats finally got to play a game on Wednesday — opening up their 2020-2021 season against Liberty.

It was a different atmosphere inside the Convocation Center — there was no band, only a few spectators were allowed in the arena, the lower bleachers were pushed in and the team benches were moved to the other side of the court to allow social distancing.

“We talked a lot about (the changes) just in the preparation,” Ohio head coach Bob Boldon said.  “I think once you start playing and competing, that all kind of goes out the window.  Once you start competing and playing the game, I don’t think you start thinking about ‘boy, this is weird’.”

“It really felt like a scrimmage when we first came out,” Ohio redshirt junior Erica Johnson said.  “We ran out and no one cheered for us.  You have to come up with your own energy.”

Johnson led the Bobcats (1-0) on a second half comeback to take down the Flames (0-1), 76-72.  Johnson missed her first five three-pointers and struggled at times early in the game, but heated up and finished the day with a team-leading 31 points and eight rebounds.

“I knew (the ball) would eventually fall,” Johnson said.  “I was kind of anxious for today.  This is what I’ve been waiting for, so I was overly excited.  I wasn’t letting my game come to me (early in the game) because that’s what I do and what I’m really good at, so, at halftime, I had to adjust and, in the third quarter, to see back-to-back (shots) go down, it felt great.”

It was a slow start for the Bobcats.  Ohio shot just 4-of-13 in the opening quarter, without hitting a three, and trailed by as many 13 points to the Flames in the first half.

“We were having a hard time making shots and we were out of position,” Boldon said.  “We gave up 25 points in the first quarter.  I can’t remember the last time we’ve done something like that.  I thought (the players) did a tremendous job of rebounding from that start and getting over that start.”

The third quarter was arguably Ohio’s best quarter of the afternoon.  The Bobcats outscored Liberty, 23-11, in the quarter.

“I think what I liked the most was their willingness and ability to come out and compete,” Boldon said.  “We knew the first half didn’t go as we had hoped and we knew there was going to be some rust.  I thought they did a great job of keeping their composure and not getting frustrated and just kind of staying in the moment and competing and trying.”

Ohio will welcome in nationally-ranked Notre Dame to Athens on Friday afternoon.  The Fighting Irish are ranked No. 22 in the latest AP Poll.  Tip-off between Ohio and Notre Dame is set for noon.  Be sure to follow Bobcat Showcase on Twitter and Facebook for coverage from the Convocation Center.

Ohio Basketball Erica Johnson
Erica Johnson (4) during Ohio’s MAC quarterfinal game against Western Michigan on March 11, 2020. PHOTO: Michael Roth/WOUB