Taylor Agler wanted to end her time playing in The Convo the right way.
That included Ohio defeating Miami at home and remaining in the race for the fourth seed in the Mid-American Conference Tournament. That way consisted of the Bobcats not having to play a first-round game in the tournament.
And for Agler, a senior, her last game in The Convo was supposed to be in the regular season. The Bobcats were supposed to play the postseason in Cleveland only.
For Agler, Wednesday’s game against Miami was supposed to be her last in The Convo for the season. But it won’t be. The Bobcats lost 78-56 against the RedHawks, and their chances of earning the fourth seed were dashed.
Now, as the Bobcats come off a second straight loss, they’re faced with multiple questions. They were supposed to contend for the fourth seed, but that path is gone.
“We have to learn from this game,” Agler said. “But like I said, we know what it was. It was effort. It’s not like we can go out there and put in a bunch of new defenses. We know exactly why we lost.”
Including the Miami game, the Bobcats have allowed an average of 75.3 in the past three games. Ohio gave up 70 points against Buffalo and 78 against Kent State.
Throughout the season, Ohio prided itself on defense. The Bobcats have been ranked in the top five of the nation for turnover margin all season. But recently, their defensive effort has been poor.
“It’s just bad,” coach Bob Boldon said of the defense. “It’s as bad as it’s been all year. And that’s obviously frustrating when you’re getting ready to play the tournament.”
Defense has been what Ohio can rely on this season, particularly because its offense hasn’t produced consistently. Cierra Hooks, the team’s best defender, suffered an apparent ankle injury early in the first quarter. Hooks didn’t play for the rest of the game, sitting on the bench in a walking boot.
While Hooks is the best defender, defense is a team concept. One person’s absence shouldn’t affect a team so much that its entire scheme is foiled.
“We’re supposed to be a team defense, not an individual defense,” Agler said. “So that’s not on (Hooks). That’s on us.”
The Bobcats struggled to defend Lauren Dickerson and Kendall McCoy, much like they did on the road against Miami on Jan. 27. Dickerson scored 21 points, and so did McCoy.
Ohio hasn’t struggled to defend many teams in the conference this season. Central Michigan and Buffalo – those two teams boast some of the best offenses in the conference.
But the RedHawks present matchup problems. They moved the ball well, which caused the Bobcats to scramble around the floor.
As the ball moved, the RedHawks were able to find open shots on the weak side. Dickerson created shots by driving to the hoop, and McCoy, the team’s best shooter, was open for 3-pointers.
The Bobcats have one more regular season game left, and they’ll play against Akron on the road Saturday. They’ll host a first-round MAC Tournament game Monday.
That’s the way it’s going to be now. Missing out on the fourth seed isn’t what Agler and Ohio wanted. But that’s the way it is.
Still, the Bobcats know how they can return to playing at the level they were at.
“It’s a quick fix. It’s just effort or no effort,” Agler said.