Click the video link above for highlights from Ohio's 61-59 win over Ball State in the MAC Tournament quarterfinals, brought to you by sports director Bryan Kurp.

Ohio Women’s Basketball: Second-Half Surge Guides Ohio over Ball State in MAC Quarterfinals

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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOUB) — For the second time this season against Ball State, Erica Johnson walked off the court and into the locker room with no points in the first half.

In the first meeting of the season between the Bobcats and Cardinals, Johnson came alive in the second half and posted 18 points, although Ohio eventually lost the game in overtime.

There is no room for a loss in the MAC Tournament.  The Bobcats came back out onto the court at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse facing a seven-point deficit — they knew they needed a spark.

Johnson provided it — tallying 19 points in the second half while shooting 7-of-10 from the field and 5-of-7 from three.

“My teammates and coaches had confidence in me and I never lost confidence in myself,” Johnson said.  “Seeing that first one go was really good.  I knew that I was where I needed to be mentally.  Getting in the flow helped.”

Ohio's Erica Johnson pulls up for a shot in the Bobcats' game against Ball State in the MAC Tournament on March 10, 2021. (Photo: Joe Collins/WOUB).
Ohio’s Erica Johnson pulls up for a shot in the Bobcats’ game against Ball State in the MAC Tournament on March 10, 2021. (Photo: Joe Collins/WOUB).

“That is just what Erica does.  That’s just who she is,” Ohio head coach Bob Boldon said.  “She bailed us out.”

Ohio (14-7) shot the ball better as a collective group in the second half, spearheaded by the play of Johnson, Cece Hooks and Gabby Burris, to advance on to the MAC semifinals with a 61-59 win over Ball State (14-11).

“I think our kids showed a lot of toughness tonight,” Boldon said.  “We did not shoot the ball as well as we had hoped, and it takes a lot of mental fortitude to stick with it and trust what you work and trust what you do.  To come out after a bad shooting half and have the mental wherewithal to be better is impressive.”

Fresh off earning MAC Player of the Year, Cece Hooks was the pulse for the Bobcats in the first half.  Hooks accounted for 16 of Ohio’s 23 first half points.  Hooks led all scorers with 21 points and 11 rebounds in the ball game.

Gabby Burris quietly had a solid game herself as she scored 15 points, including back-to-back threes in the third quarter to erase the Ball State deficit.

Ohio ended up leading by as many as eight points late in the third quarter but the Cardinals pulled the game within one point in the fourth.  A late three by Hooks created separation until a three from Thelma Dis Agustsdottir made it a two-point game within a minute left.

A game of “keep away” for the Bobcats milked the clock down to 1.4 seconds.  One more inbound to Hooks locked up the win.

“This game really tested us mentally,” Johnson said.  “We needed a game like this ahead of Friday.”

Ohio is headed to the MAC semifinals for the third-straight season.

The Bobcats will face off against Central Michigan (16-8) on Friday.  Ohio and CMU split the regular season series.  Tip-off is set for approximately 12:30 p.m. in Cleveland.