When Ohio played against Central Michigan on Jan. 3, it entered the game as one of the Mid-American Conference’s premier defensive teams.
The Bobcats still are one of the conference’s top defensive teams; they lead the MAC in turnover margin and are ranked second in the country for the category.
But going up against the Chippewas — perhaps the best offensive team in the MAC — was difficult. The Bobcats lost 82-58, giving up the most points they’ve allowed this season. Still, as coach Bob Boldon answered questions after Ohio’s 80-76 win in The Convo against Ball State on Saturday, he spoke of how he hoped his team had improved since the loss against the Chippewas.
The Bobcats will play the Chippewas at home Wednesday at 7 p.m., and they’ll look to be the first MAC team to defeat the Chippewas this season. But with the Chippewas’ fast-paced offense, the Bobcats will need to play as well on defense as they have all season.
“We surely didn’t play very good defense, and that’s where it starts with them (the Chippewas),” Boldon said.
The Bobcats were down 23-16 at the end of the first quarter against the Chippewas in January, and the Chippewas had only made one 3-pointer, which is something they thrive on. The second quarter was different, though.
Ohio was outscored 31-15 in that quarter, and Central Michigan didn’t miss any of its five shots from the 3-point line.
While the Bobcats have played quality perimeter defense, they’ve struggled to defend teams that can shoot well.
They allow teams to shoot an average of 33.9 percent from the 3-point line. The trouble in guarding Central Michigan is that the Chippewas move the ball well. If they can’t get a shot in transition, they’re still able to find shots in half court.
The Chippewas lead the MAC in 3-point shooting percentage (38.8), and they have two players — Presley Hudson and Cassie Breen — ranked in the top five of the conference for 3-point shooting percentage.
Trying to contain the Chippewas’ offense will be the Bobcats’ main challenge. Aside from that, the Bobcats are also going will need to make enough shots to stay in the game.
That’s something they’ve improved on, too. In the past eight games, the Bobcats have shot an average of 38.3 percent from the field. The Bobcats have averaged 37.1 percent from the field this season, but in certain games, they’ve shot better than usual.
The Ball State game was one of those. After leading 39-20 at half, the Bobcats were outscored 29-15 in the third quarter against the Cardinals. Despite the game being tied at 59 with just over seven minutes left in the game, the Bobcats regained their lead and won.
They made shots when they needed to against the Cardinals, another premier offense in the MAC. Along with playing good defense, making timely shots is what the Bobcats will need as they prepare for the Chippewas, the top team in the MAC.