KENT – With about five minutes left in the game Saturday, the Bobcats needed to extend the lead as they led by five points.
Amani Burke had helped Ohio maintain the lead with her ability to attack the basket. In a game that required the Bobcats to exhibit patience on offense, Burke provided stability.
She went to the the free throw line and made one free throw. Kent State forward Jordan Korinek made two free throws with 4:57 left, but then, Ohio went on an 8-0 run.
The Golden Flashes kept pressuring, and, though Burke fouled out with 1:51 left, the Bobcats maintained the lead and defeated the Golden Flashes 78-65 in the M.A.C. Center.
“I thought she was patient in her shot selection,” coach Bob Boldon said of Burke. “And did a good job of attacking and being aggressive as well.”
Burke scored 20 points, tying the season-high she set Jan. 17 at home against Buffalo. Burke didn’t start the game because she's coming back from an illness. She played against Central Michigan and didn’t start, either; she didn't play at all against Ball State.
Boldon said Thursday was Burke’s first full practice with contact in two weeks. But as she came off the bench, she came in prepared. Burke shot 2-of-3 from the 3-point line to begin.
“To have her back full speed, we’re obviously a better team that way,” Boldon said.
Still, even with Burke scoring for the Bobcats, they had to remain poised against a physical Kent State team. Throughout the second quarter, the Bobcats succumbed to the Flashes’ pressure as they committed 10 turnovers.
The Bobcats were outscored 15-12 in the second quarter, and they lacked patience on the offensive end. The Bobcats only led by five at the end of the first half.
“We played a really gross second quarter offensively, and then scored 45 second-half points,” Boldon said. “I thought halftime came at the perfect time for us to settle down and regather ourselves.”
The Flashes were physical, not letting the Bobcats score easily. Any shot the Bobcats took inside was stopped quickly. And when shots were taken away, the Bobcats had to reverse and move the ball until they found a shot.
Burke helped bring stability to the Bobcats in the second half. After scoring eight points in the first half, Burke scored 12 points in the second half. During their 8-0 run, freshman forward Gabby Burris made a layup and was fouled with under four minutes left to go.
As the ball went through the hoop, Taylor Agler yelled “and one!” in jubilation. The Bobcats went up 67-56, and Kent State was running out of time to continue being aggressive.
The second half was different, but that’s because the Bobcats regained patience on the offensive end. While Kent State tried to play fast, the Bobcats controlled the pace better.
“I think the kids deserve a lot of credit,” Boldon said. “They kind of gathered themselves and got their bearings and said, ‘OK, we've got to get back to doing what we do.’”
For the Bobcats, making sure they don’t turn the ball over frequently is important. They’re a team that doesn’t prefer playing fast. Having patience in the half court is what they thrive on.
“It’s one thing to say that, and the next thing is to go do it,” Boldon said of decreasing the turnovers. “To their credit, they did a pretty good job. Had some silly turnovers in the second half, but better than the second quarter for sure.”