Ohio’s CeCe Hooks (1) led the Bobcats in scoring with 32 points against Notre Dame on Nov. 27, 2020.

Ohio Women’s Basketball: Bobcats upset No. 22 Notre Dame; pick up first ever win against ranked opponent

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ATHENS, Ohio — With 52 seconds left, CeCe Hooks sunk a shot to put the Bobcats up, 85-83.  After a made Notre Dame field-goal and one made free throw from Hooks, the Fighting Irish had one final shot to win the game — but the desperation heave was never attempted and that was the ball game.

Ohio (2-0) stunned No. 22 Notre Dame (0-1) at the Convocation Center on Friday, 86-85.  The win marks the Bobcats’ first ever win against a ranked opponent in program history.

“We don’t get seven, eight, ten chances to play a top 25 team,” Ohio head coach Bob Boldon said.  “We get one, maybe two.  You got to seize that moment and I’m very proud of (the players) for seizing that moment.”

Ohio Women's Basketball, Bob Boldon
Ohio head coach Bob Boldon is the winningest coach in program history with 151 wins. In his tenure, Boldon has picked up several wins against power five opponents, most notably against No. 22 Notre Dame.

It wasn’t all easy for the Bobcats in this one.

After a strong first half and having a 41-30 lead at the half, Ohio faced foul trouble that opened the door for a Fighting Irish comeback.  Erica Johnson picked up her fourth foul of the game midway through the third quarter and head coach Bob Boldon was forced to pull Johnson out of the game.

“I was wondering how long we can hang on to the lead with Johnson out,” Boldon said.  “Then I was wondering, after we didn’t do that, how big of a deficit can we be in before I put her back in.”

The Irish overcame as much of a 12-point deficit in the third quarter and even took the lead heading into the final period of play.  Despite giving up the lead, CeCe Hooks and other players stepped up while Johnson was on the bench.

“I just knew I had to put (the team) on my back and get the win for us,” Hooks said.  “Even though Erica (Johnson) was out, we had other players that can step up.”

Hooks finished with a team-leading 32 points, while grabbing eight rebounds.  Gabby Burris also reached double figures with 11 points.

Johnson ended up coming back in the game for a large majority of the fourth quarter and finished the game with 24 points.  Johnson spearheaded an 8-0 run in the fourth quarter to get the Bobcats back in the ballgame.

In the end, it was the Bobcats’ resiliency, that was also seen in their opening game against Liberty, that helped guide the Bobcats to victory.

“I was really proud of them,” Boldon said.  “There were a number of times, both today and Wednesday, that we could have folded, but we didn’t.  That shows some maturity and we returned a lot of players from last year’s team and last year’s team fell short of a lot of big wins.  It was nice to see them rebound and take care of business and pull out a couple ones out to start the season.”

Does Ohio deserve a spot in next week’s AP top 25?

“Definitely, I think so,” Hooks said.

Ohio will next play on Dec. 5 at Kent State.  The tip-off time for that game is yet to be determined.