[Bryan Kurp | WOUB]

Felder’s career night helps snap Ohio Women’s Basketball’s four-game losing streak

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ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB) – After losing its last four games, Ohio was in dire need of a win to avoid slipping further in the MAC standings. On Monday night, the Bobcats got the win they were looking for as they handled Eastern Michigan, 66-53.

Ohio was without its second-leading scorer Erica Johnson, who didn’t dress but was on the bench in a walking boot. When asked about it, head coach Bob Boldon said the injury was a “day-to-day thing.”

Ohio University’s Yaya Felder, left, shoots over the head of Ball State University defense in their basketball game in Athens
Ohio’s Yaya Felder shoots over the head of the Ball State University defense in their basketball game in Athens. [Joseph Scheller | WOUB]
Yaya Felder started in Johnson’s place and Felder didn’t disappoint. Felder led Ohio in scoring with a career-high 20 points on 7-of-11 shooting. She also added eight rebounds.

“She has come into a situation where we have thrown her out there and she has handled that very well,” head coach Bob Boldon said. “She started a few games in a row for us. This is the fifth position we’ve started her at. We started her in place of Gabby (Burris), in place of Kaylee (Bambule), in place of Cece (Hooks), and now in place of Erica (Johnson). That’s a lot for a freshman to take on and she deserves to be commended for the way she has handled it.”

Cece Hooks, Ohio’s leading scorer, made her presence known per usual. Hooks contributed with a double-double, but she didn’t have her best shooting performance. She was held to only 12 points. What she lacked in shooting, she made up with in passing as Hooks finished with a team-high 10 assists. She was just three rebounds shy of a triple-double.

“She did what we needed to do tonight to win,” Boldon said. “It’s hard to play basketball well at this level and it’s hard to play well at this level without practicing.”

Hooks cleared the concussion protocol prior to the game after suffering a head injury last week and got her only practice in yesterday during the team’s walk-through. When taking that into account, Boldon described Hooks’ performance as “phenomenal” on Monday night.

Aside from Hooks and Felder, Gabby Burris had a good night as well. Like Hooks, the senior forward finished with a double-double of 18 points and grabbing a team-high 11 rebounds.

Team defense has been a point of emphasis for the Bobcats and on Monday night, they put together a stellar performance defensively. From the opening quarter, Ohio controlled the game on defense, outscoring the Eagles 14-7 in the opening frame. In the second half, the Bobcats held Eastern Michigan to just 23 points.

Ohio head coach Bob Boldon chats with his players prior to the start of the fourth quarter of the Bobcats' game against Eastern Michigan on Feb. 14, 2022.
Ohio head coach Bob Boldon chats with his players prior to the start of the fourth quarter of the Bobcats’ game against Eastern Michigan on Feb. 14, 2022.

On top of holding Eastern Michigan to low scoring quarters, Ohio held Eastern Michigan to 32.8 pecent shooting and forced 17 turnovers. Despite forcing 17 turnovers, Ohio turned the ball over 16 times, which is not ideal for the Bobcats going forward.

“They missed some shots but I was very pleased with our effort defensively,” Boldon said. “I thought we cleaned up the misses pretty well, didn’t give up many second chance opportunities, limited their chances in the paint, and they didn’t shoot 45% from three which was nice.”

With the win, Ohio improves to 12-9 overall and 6-6 in MAC play. They’re currently tied with Northern Illinois for the eighth spot in the standings based on conference winning percentage, but Northern Illinois does have the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Bobcats after sweeping the season series.

With little room for error this late in the season, Ohio has little time to recover as it plays host to Toledo on Wednesday. The top-ranked Rockets will have revenge on their minds as Ohio defeated Toledo 79-72 back on Jan. 26 to hand the Rockets their only conference loss this season. Ohio will find itself  in a must-win situation again as it looks to crack into the top eight of the standings in order to be eligible for the MAC Tournament