With the Bobcats down by two with six seconds to go, freshman Gabby Burris posted up, received the inbound pass from Dominique Doseck, drove the ball to the hoop, and shot a reverse layup as the clock ticked away.
Burris couldn’t get it to fall.
Ohio pushed Central Michigan, one of the hottest teams in the country, to its brink but stumbled just short as the Bobcats fell 74-72 on Wednesday at The Convo.
“We got a layup from one of our better players (Burris) and I’ll take it,” Ohio coach Bob Boldon said following the game. “I guess, looking at the stats sheet and looking at who was on the floor we probably should have gone to Dom or Amani, but we stretched down the line.”
It was the smallest margin of victory Central Michigan had won by in Mid-American Conference play to date.
Burris’s layup wasn’t the only chance Ohio had to tie or win the game in the final minute of play. In fact, Ohio found itself down 71-63 to MAC-leading Central Michigan with just 1:39 remaining in the game. It seemed impossible at the time that Ohio would get a shot to win the game.
After coming back from a nine-point deficit late in the third quarter to eventually take the lead, the Bobcats had confidence that they could make another late run to rattle the Chippewas. This time, to close the game.
“We’ve been in that situation plenty of times this year,” Doseck said, citing an earlier game this season at Marshall. “I think we’re very comfortable with our odds in that situation.”
After an Amani Burke free throw and layup, the Bobcats trailed by five with 1:34 left on the clock. Following two made free throws by the Chippewas, the Bobcats struggled to find an open look. Then, Cierra Hooks, who had a career-high 30 points, tallied one of her nine steals and drove the ball in for a layup with 29 seconds remaining in the game.
Later, Ohio (12-10, 6-5 MAC) went to none other than Hooks, who took the inbound pass and drove in for a layup in under three seconds to cut the margin to one. When Central Michigan brought the ball up the court following a timeout, more chaos ensued.
Burke, who had a stellar defensive performance, stole the ball from Central Michigan’s Micaela Kelly and advanced it down the court with 15 seconds left. Ohio opted to pass the ball to Katie Barker, who was standing in the corner, behind the arc, wide open. Her shot traveled over the rim and Central Michigan’s Tinara Moore picked up the board.
Boldon didn’t express a problem with Barker’s three-point attempt.
“I thought we made all the correct basketball plays,” he said. “We stole it, did a good job of driving it, we were patient, we didn’t take a crappy layup, and we moved the basketball to get a wide open catch and shoot three that didn’t go our way.”
The Chippewas (19-3, 11-0 MAC) extended their win streak to 11 games with the 74-72 victory.
The Bobcats were pleased they were able to go toe to toe with another top team in the MAC for a second consecutive game.
“I’m happy with where we are,” Boldon said. “This hurts a little bit but we’ve certainly shown some maturity.”
Despite taking the Chippewas to their brink, however, Boldon definitely feels his team could have played better and feels there is still more his team needs to improve on.
“I don’t think we played a great game; defensively the first quarter was poor, and in the fourth quarter we were off to a terrible start defensively after a strong third quarter,” he said. “So it could have been better.”
Hooks and Doseck combined for 54 of Ohio’s 72 points. Most of Doseck’s points came from behind the three-point line, where she made 7-of-11. She recorded a career-high in points and assists with seven.
Central Michigan’s scoring was evenly dispersed between Moore, Reyna Frost, and Presley Hudson. The trio combined for 56 of their team’s 74 points.
Despite coming up empty handed on back-to-back trips down the floor at the end of the game, the Bobcats realize it could have been one play over the course of the night that would have made the difference.
“Any given rebound, take away their offensive board, any given shot throughout the game would have won us the game,” said Doseck. “You can’t put it (the loss) down on one shot.”
Doseck hopes to see Central Michigan again.
“So, things didn’t go our way today but I have confidence we can come back, maybe see them in the tournament and I’ll take our chances.”