KENT — Coach Bob Boldon doesn't like to remember his first season at Ohio.
He was dealt loss after loss in a season to forget and was reminded of that feeling Saturday afternoon against Kent State.
Since Boldon's first year, it was the first time he lost more than two regular season conference games, was swept by two conference opponents, had consecutive losses and won't win the Mid-American Conference regular season title.
"This is something new for us," Boldon said. "I guess Buffalo beat us twice last year so it's not that new. I imagine the two-game losing streak is new. But it's a new season, its a new team — a resilient team — who will show up to practice Monday and try to work."
By no means is this a bad season for Ohio. With 18 wins on the season, Ohio is two wins away from having its third-straight 20-win season. But it also means the Bobcats are going to have to work harder to achieve the goal of reaching the NCAA Tournament for the second time in three seasons.
Ohio's loss to Kent State changes a lot with four games remaining.
The Bobcats are no longer in first place in the MAC East Division. With Kent State having two wins over Ohio, Kent State should be the new leaders. Ohio will also most likely fall to No. 5 seed in the conference behind Central Michigan, Ball State, Northern Illinois and Kent State, in that order.
What else is unique about Saturday's loss is Ohio now has two teams to really focus on ahead of the tournament.
Last year, Ohio wanted to achieve redemption against Buffalo falling in the two regular season games. By fortune, the Bobcats faced Buffalo in the first round and fell for a third time. Come March, Ohio will be ready to play Kent State and/or Central Michigan for a chance to redeem itself.
"The idea of winning the MAC is long gone, and that's OK, we had a nice run," Boldon said after the game. "The next two weeks is about playing in the tournament."
The way the season has gone so far for Ohio, this wasn't how it imagined its journey to the MAC Tournament. If there's one thing Ohio has learned from the past month, it is that the MAC has gotten stronger.
A year ago, Ohio struggled with one team. This year its struggled with two. With four games left, the focus is bouncing back and preparing for post season play.
"While we can't win the conference, we can still make a run in the tournament and maybe play in a post season tournament somewhere, and I think those are things that our senior class deserves after all they've done for our program."