Amani Burke missed a jump shot with 1:37 left in the game, but freshman forward Gabby Burris snagged the ball for the offensive rebound.
Ohio was up by five points, and as Eastern Kentucky made a couple of 3s to get back in the game, Ohio needed to maintain the lead.
Burris put the ball back up and made a layup. The Colonels didn’t score any more points after Burris’ layup, and the Bobcats won 69-57 on the road Tuesday in McBrayer Arena.
In the middle of the fourth quarter, the Bobcats needed to create some separation — and they did so once again with defense. With 7:10 left in the game, redshirt senior guard Taylor Agler made a 3-pointer to put Ohio up 53-47.
Dominique Doseck, who led the Bobcats with 15 points, made a 3 that contributed to the Bobcats' 7-0 run before the Colonels began to cut into the lead.
After Burris’ layup, the Bobcats didn’t allow the Colonels to cut into the lead anymore. And despite being down 33-32 at half, the Bobcats outscored the Colonels 37-24.
“We started playing basketball like we’re supposed to play basketball,” coach Bob Boldon said. “That first half was not accustomed to what we’re accustomed to seeing here.”
Boldon suggested that the team’s confidence was perhaps too high before the game. Ohio was coming off its first loss of the season after it fell to then-No. 25 Michigan last Saturday, and Eastern Kentucky had lost three games.
But the Colonels also only had one loss at home, too.
“The team that wins should always be the team that tried its hardest,” Boldon said. “And in while, we weren’t the team that tried its hardest.”
Despite the Bobcats’ slow start, resolve was found in their effort on defense. Ohio forced 12 turnovers in the second half, and it totaled 27. The Bobcats scored 28 points off the 27 forced turnovers.
Heading into this game, the Bobcats boasted the top turnover margin (+17.50) in the country as of Monday. On Tuesday, the Bobcats had a turnover margin of +16.
Ohio has one of the best defenses in the country, but its offense still has room to improve. The Bobcats have capable shooters in Doseck, Agler and Katie Barker, but they shot 38.5 percent from the field and 26.9 percent from 3.
Still, Boldon is optimistic about the shooting numbers eventually increasing. Also, Agler and Doseck hit key threes when they needed to.
“We’ve got several kids that are 35-40 percent 3-point shooters that aren’t shooting it at that rate at the moment,” Boldon said. “And if indeed we’re correct at valuing them at that level, then we’re going to be in for some good basketball coming our way in the future.”
Once the Bobcats begin to shoot better — and if the quality defense remains — they’re going to be a force in the Mid-American Conference. If a team can play defense well, it’ll always be in games.
Sometimes it’s just a matter if some shots can fall.
“Those kids have worked hard, they’re good shots, they’re good shooters,” Boldon said. “They’ve got good form. They’ll come around. I’m confident in that.”