Taylor Agler couldn't make all the plays in the fourth quarter Wednesday.
Agler, a redshirt senior, couldn’t play much through long stretches because of foul trouble — she had four.
Freshman Cierra Hooks, however, made plays in the fourth quarter. She had 12 fourth quarter points. She was incredible.
But with just 59 seconds remaining, the veteran Agler, not the young Hooks, was the one standing at the foul line with an opportunity to put the Bobcats ahead for good. Agler made two free throws to give the Bobcats the lead in their 79-78 win over Kent State in The Convo.
“Oh, she’s got it,” Amani Burke said without hesitating about Agler’s free throw attempts. “She gets really nervous at the line, but we all have faith in her.”
Of course, Agler wouldn’t have been in the position to give the Bobcats a lead if not for Hooks. Hooks had 21 points, nine steals and eight assists. Her first steal of the game gave her the single-season record for steals by a Bobcat.
It’s been that kind of freshman season for Hooks. She was inserted into the starting lineup Feb. 3 against Ball State and has stayed there since. She’s scored double figures in all but six games this season. She has become the most dynamic thief in Ohio women’s basketball history.
“We haven’t had anybody at any of my other schools that have been this dynamic,” coach Bob Boldon said. “Especially as a freshman.”
Hooks proved again Wednesday night why she is leading the Bobcats as they attempt to lock up a first-round bye in the Mid-American Conference tournament. Ohio is currently tied for fourth with Miami. The top four seeds earn a bye.
Hooks knows her role in Ohio’s system. And she’s excelling in it.
“I’m one of the best defenders on our team,” Hooks said. “So I just try my best.”
“She’s one of the best players,” Burke added as Hooks finished.
While Hooks was having a memorable fourth quarter, Agler stayed quiet. Her first two points of the game were free throws in the first quarter to make the game 7-5 and 7-6. She had three fouls at halftime and picked up her fourth early in the third quarter. She was destined for a lousy night, while Hooks was outperforming everyone.
But then the final sequence happened. Agler had the ball in the corner, drove to the rim and was hacked. She found herself with a chance to win the game in the middle of her less-than-ideal night. On a night when Hooks put Ohio on her back and kept it afloat, it wasn’t Hooks, who led the team in scoring. It wasn’t one of the four Bobcats in double-figures.
No, it was the wily, old fifth-year senior winning the game for Ohio.
It wasn’t her first time doing it. And with the Bobcats fighting for position as they approach the final stretch of the season, it might not be her last.
“She’s made big free throws for us down the stretch before,” coach Bob Boldon said. “This isn’t her first rodeo.”