Katie Barker knows Ohio will play at least one game in the Mid-American Conference Tournament, which begins March 5.
So, with only two games left in the regular season, Barker realizes that the Bobcats gaining momentum before the tournament could be beneficial. Whether the Bobcats earn a coveted first-round bye or play on a campus site will likely be decided Wednesday, when they play Miami in the last home game of the season at 7 p.m.
“I think bigger than getting the four seed is just going into the tournament doing things right,” Barker said.
The Bobcats are one game behind the RedHawks for the fourth seed in the MAC Tournament. The No. 4 seed would give the Bobcats a first-round bye. If they defeat the RedHawks, they’ll tie the season series and be in position to gain the fourth seed.
Ohio would need to defeat Akron on the road Saturday to clinch the fourth seed, but a win against the RedHawks would allow the Bobcats to control their fate. A loss would eliminate the Bobcats from contending for the fourth seed.
The Bobcats are coming off a 70-53 road loss against Buffalo, and they were outscored 26-15 in the third quarter. Barker said that Ohio’s offense didn’t try enough during the third quarter.
The Bulls played a 2-3 zone, but the Bobcats weren’t aggressive against it. That lack of aggressiveness caused the Bobcats to not keep up with the Bulls, who scored 19 points in about the first five minutes of the third quarter.
“We needed to pick up our tempo, and I thought we did that today (in practice),” coach Bob Boldon said. “I thought they responded well to better tempo and better ball movement.”
While Ohio didn’t play its best offensive quarter in the third against Buffalo, its defense wasn’t good either. After allowing 21 points in the first half, the Bobcats allowed the Bulls to score 49 points in the second half.
As the Bobcats finish the regular season, they can’t have another third quarter – or any quarter for that matter – like they did against the Bulls.
“We just have to try every single possession and not take plays off I think is the biggest takeaway from the Buffalo game,” Barker said.
Two games are left in the regular season, and aside from Central Michigan, Buffalo and Ball State, the MAC’s elite, the conference is even. Fatigue has set in from a long season, but the MAC Tournament starts next week.
The Bobcats’ game Wednesday is their most important. And then the game after that against Akron will be just as important. Then, the postseason begins. The Bobcats will need their strengths — tight defense and fluid offense — on display.
“It’s that point in the season where people are tired, people are sore,” Barker said. “And you just gotta get past that and mentally be strong enough to play hard every single possession.”