Bob Boldon was realistic about Ohio’s second half performance against Buffalo.
“It was pretty bad,” Boldon said.
He’s right. Though the game began as one filled with defense, the Bobcats succumbed to the Bulls, one of the top scoring teams in the Mid-American Conference. Ohio lost 70-53 on Saturday in Alumni Arena and had its two-game win streak snapped.
As the third quarter began, the Bobcats were in position to compete with the Bulls in the second half. The Bobcats led 26-21 at halftime, and they were fortunate the Bulls didn’t shoot well in the first half.
The Bobcats played good defense, but the Bulls also missed many shots — that changed in the third quarter, though.
Bulls guard Autumn Jones made a 3-pointer to begin the third quarter and cut the Bobcats’ lead to 26-24. The Bobcats couldn’t create enough separation as they led 34-33 with 6:30 left in the third quarter. The Bulls went on a 7-0 run in the middle of the third quarter, and the Bobcats never led again as the Bulls went up 40-36 with 4:46 left in the quarter.
The Bobcats lost their lead because they allowed the Bulls to increase the pace of the game again. Ohio had the lead because it was playing patiently in its half-court offense. Also, the Bobcats’ 2-3 zone worked as it didn’t allow the Bulls to have many open shots.
But in the second half, the Bobcats’ patient offense was eliminated. The Bulls began to run 2-3 zone, and the Bobcats struggled to produce on offense.
“I thought our offense put our defense in a bad spot a couple times,” Boldon said. “We didn’t really execute offensively real well. It kind of messed with our floor balance a little bit.”
The Bobcats didn’t play good transition defense, either. The Bulls scored 14 fast-break points. They also scored 10 second chance points off 18 offensive rebounds.
The Bobcats were outscored 49-27 in the second half. Though they struggled to score, sophomore guard Amani Burke shot well. Burke made four 3-pointers and led the team with 18 points.
As Ohio tried to break the Bulls’ zone, Burke was open for jumpers. She made 50 percent of her 3-pointers.
Still, the Bobcats weren’t good enough to keep pace with the Bulls, one of the most offensively sound teams in the MAC.
“We had some bright spots, and we had some things that we did well,” Boldon said. “We just didn’t have enough. And when you’re playing against a team that’s this good, you just can’t have that many deficiencies.”
Ohio (15-12, 9-7 MAC) has two games left in its regular season. The MAC Tournament begins March 5, and the Bobcats are competing for a top-four seed, which would earn them a first-round bye.
The Bobcats will play their last home game of the season Wednesday against Miami — that game will likely decide if Ohio earns a first-round bye.